Where Angels Pass #FREE on #KINDLE

My new book, Where Angels Pass, is FREE on Kindle today through Sunday.

Synopsis: Teenager Evie Gallagher is stunned when her 45-year-old father dies tragically and suddenly. Too many unanswered questions accompany Evie’s challenging journey to adulthood. When she finally discovers the reason her father led such a troubled life, shock turns to anger. She is determined to find justice for her father.

Nervous about the first day of his freshman year, 14-year-old Hank Gallagher steps inside Holy Archangels High School for the first time in September of 1954. Although the majestic Holy Archangels statues inside the school’s grand lobby present an air of protection, it is not long before Hank passes right under them and into the hands of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Confused and cornered by threats, Hank attempts to abandon his secret to the past, but a horrible wound on his heart eventually leads to a catastrophic breakdown.

Based loosely on actual events, chapters alternate between Evie and Hank to reveal a life haunted by betrayal and a revelation of true justice and hope.

Reviews:

I have just completed reading your recent book Where Angels Pass and I wanted just to drop you a quick note to express my appreciation for it. As a Catholic priest in the Diocese of Pembroke, I have had the fortunate/unfortunate opportunity to confront the issue of clergy sexual abuse in my years of ministry. Fortunate, in that I have learned a great deal from the powerful witness and dignity of victims and have been privileged to have been allowed to share in their life’s journey of pain, suffering, and sometimes even the recovery of their faith. Unfortunate, in as much as those victims should never have had to deal with such a horrific event in their lives to begin with, or have encountered the unChristian manner in which they were dealt with by Church authorities. Your book captured both elements with grace, style, and dare I say, with the light of a Catholic faith that would shame many a professed cleric. Fr. Tim Moyle, Diocese of Pembroke

Stunning in its teaching of wisdom and compassion. Very powerful.  Fr. Arthur J.

Ellen Gable’s newest novel, Where Angels Pass, will take readers to the depths of their emotions. It is a beautifully written, yet heart-rending tale of sexual abuse and the long-term effects such a crime has on its victims. From the beginning of the story, Ellen draws in the reader bringing them close to loveable characters, each with their own story to tell. Curiosity and empathy compel the reader to keep moving through a story that might be difficult for some to read, as it zooms in on sexual abuse by clergy. Anger and compassion go hand-in-hand throughout this tale, and Ellen Gable does a remarkable job balancing the two. I believe this novel will bring to light the utter tragedy of clerical abuse and the ripple effect it has for generations to come. Yet through the darkness of that abomination, dawn rises, and we are assured that justice can prevail and healing can be achieved. I highly recommend this book for anyone who seeks to understand, for this just might be one of the most important novels of our time.  Mary Jo Thayer, award-winning author of Close to the Soul

Ellen Gable tells a very personal and difficult story with such gentleness, love, and heartfelt honesty. What I expected to be an uncomfortable story ended up being a love story of a daughter for her father, a father who suffered the lifelong effects of something no young person should ever experience. Thank you, Ellen, for sharing this deeply moving story that will surely touch readers in a very profound way.    Jim Sano, award-winning author, The Father’s Son

Incredible book. A story with uncompromising honesty. Children reflect our worst and best selves. What they inherit from us speaks to our final judgment. Here is a story that offers humanity hope despite one of the worst sins of all—the corruption of innocence.   A.K. Frailey, author

The greatest tragedy that could befall the Roman Catholic Church is for a child’s innocence to be stolen by a priest. And yet it has happened thousands of times and continues to happen. Told by Ellen Gable, as only she can tell it, with candor and faith, this story sheds light on the darkness of a case of clerical abuse. As the results of the abuse envelop an entire family, one sees how that the original victim truly had his life destroyed by one evil man. A moving and heart-breaking read that will change your life and strengthen your faith!  Elena-Maria Vidal, author

Pick up your FREE copy here.

An Open Book – May 2022

I’m joining Carolyn Astfalk and Catholic Mom for An Open Book. Here’s what I’ve been reading or working on for the past month:

Synopsis: Two years after returning to Havendale to help her octogenarian Aunt Bernie recover from a broken hip, Mibs has Monahan’s Sewing Shop running smoothly. The energetic seamstress is pleased with the increasing business and very happy with the growing relationship between her and Detective Jace Trueblood.
The busy but enjoyable days start coming apart at the seams when an assassin shoots one man and wounds another at the local community theater. While working on costumes for an upcoming children’s play at the theater, Mibs becomes the only person who can identify the shooter. When the killer tries to silence Mibs from testifying, she ends up in a coma, fighting for her life.
For the first time in years, Jace kneels in prayer. While the worried Detective Trueblood relies on his team of detectives to find and apprehend the killer, he relies on the Lord to give him the strength to face the life-and-death situation threatening the woman he loves.
Will the circumstances binding friends and family together end up in torn and tattered lives? Or will the skill of the Havendale Police and the blessings of God tailor a happy ending for Mibs and Jace?

Now available from FQP!

Synopsis: Prehistoric Resurrection… or Genetic Warfare?

Using Fossil Gene Redemption (FGR), geneticist Kevin G. Harrigan experiments with genes from a frozen “Ice Man”. His work prompts Iraqi leader, Ismail Mon, to provide resources for exciting new research that enables Harrigan’s team to regenerate extinct “cryptids” and human sub-species from the Ice Ages. But FGR can be the basis for genetic weapons of mass destruction; United States intelligence and defense leaders must act!

Radically distinct from Jurassic ParkAncient of Genes shows new megafauna regeneration methods by which the only prophecy held in common among major religions & myth traditions could manifest: Some form of regeneration of human ancestors and megafauna. Once considered junk DNA, personality genes and other traits archive in lineages. These genes await a virus vector that targets meiosis to re-express them in all subsequent generations. This can start a resurrection cascade enabling Mon to ruin enemy genomes, improve his allies’ genes… and inherit the earth!

Harrigan’s frightening choice can lead to redemption… or the terrifying sunset of humanity!

My review: This was a riveting Jurassic Park-type story, and I thoroughly enjoyed it! I also enjoyed the Catholic references and the internal spiritual struggles of the main characters. Recommend! 4/5.

Synopsis: Detective Lt. Joe Kenda, star of Homicide Hunter, shares his deepest, darkest, and never before revealed case files from his 19 years as a homicide detective.

Are you horrified yet fascinated by abhorrent murders? Do you crave to know the gory details of these crimes, and do you seek comfort in the solving of the most gruesome?

In I Will Find You, the star of Homicide Hunter: Lt. Joe Kenda shares his deepest, darkest, and never-before-revealed case files from his two decades as a homicide detective and reminds us that crimes like these are very real and can happen even in our own backyards.

Gruesome, macabre, and complex cases.

Joe Kenda investigated 387 murder cases during his 23 years with the Colorado Springs Police Department and solved almost all of them. And he is ready to detail the cases that are too gruesome to air on television, cases that still haunt him, and the few cases where the killer got away. These cases are horrifyingly real, and the detail is so mesmerizing you won’t be able to look away.

The tales in I Will Find You will shock you like the best horror stories-divulging insights into the actions, motivations, and proclivities of nature’s most dangerous species.

My review: I really enjoy the TV show, Homicide Hunter, with Joe Kenda. And while he’s not an expert writer, he sounds exactly like he does on the TV show, describing cases that were either over PG-rated or cases that he hadn’t solved (less than six percent). Interesting read. Recommend. 4/5.

Synopsis: Karl Keating defends Catholicism from fundamentalist attacks and explains why fundamentalism has been so successful in converting Romanists. After showing the origins of fundamentalism, he examines representative anti-Catholic groups and presents their arguments in their own words. His rebuttals are clear, detailed, and charitable. Special emphasis is given to the scriptural basis for Catholic doctrines and beliefs.

My review: I read this book every few years because it’s so fascinating, and it’s such an interesting read. Highly recommend. 5/5.

An Open Book – April

I’m joining Carolyn Astfalk and CatholicMom.com for An Open Book. Here’s what I’ve been reading and/or working on in the past month:

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

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

Ruth and Gemma have a Physics exam in the morning.
Becky and Alleluia are revising for their college entrance tests.
So it’s an absolute nightmare to be woken by the fire alarm in the dead of the night.
But for them, and for 272 other girls from Chisbrook Hall girls boarding school, the real nightmare is just beginning.
Because ‘al-Qabda’ are taking them all away.
Whether they want to go or not.

My review: This is a compelling read, but one that I had to take a break from because of the difficult content. I remember praying for the release of the Chibok girls, and the author brilliantly puts us right into the minds and hearts of the girls taken hostage, some of whom were massacred, others abused and forced into marriage. Highly recommend.

Amazon Synopsis: “The shape of you, the shape of me, the shape of everything I see..” In this board book featuring bright new colors and the original whimsical text, Dr. Seuss introduces the concept of shapes to babies and toddlers.  

My review: I’ve been reading this one to our 2.5-year-old grandson and it’s a delightful read with great rhyming. Highly recommend.

Amazon Synopsis:

TV news reporter Violet Rosati thought she’d be married with kids and living in the suburbs by now. Instead, she’s single, thirty-one, and starting a new job at a TV station in Portland. Her move to Maine brings her closer to her boyfriend, Jude, who she hopes will propose soon. He knows and accepts everything about her—even her darkest secret.

However, her new church brings an unexpected surprise. While in confession, she realizes the priest is her ex-boyfriend, Tristan. She hasn’t seen him in seven years and never told him about her pregnancy. He treated her terribly and broke her heart. Now he’s a priest?

As she faces old wounds, she finds Father Tristan to be kind, empathetic, and apologetic. Old feelings reemerge. But he’s a priest, and she loves Jude. How can she be drawn to a priest when she has such a wonderful boyfriend? Confused and torn, she struggles to forgive, love, and find redemption. Turning to her faith for direction, she learns that forgiving herself may be the hardest part of all.

Can she move on and find the life she wants with Jude? Or does she confront her feelings for Father Tristan and risk the lives they’ve both chosen?

My review: This was an enjoyable book to read, a great story, and well-defined characters. Seems like an excellent start to a new series. However, it needs another proofread, so I gave it a 4/5.

Stay With Me by Carolyn Astfalk

Amazon Synopsis:

Finalist in the 2016 IAN Book Awards (Romance)
With her sister Abby’s encouragement, Rebecca has moved out of their overbearing father’s home. When a chance encounter with Chris ends with an invitation, Rebecca says yes. The authentic way Chris lives his life attracts Rebecca and garners her affection.

Chris loves Rebecca and her innocence, but he’s confounded by the emotional scars she bears from her parents and an attempted assault. Her father’s disdain for Chris’s faith and career only make matters worse.

With the counsel of their friend Father John, can Rebecca and Chris overcome every obstacle and bridge the deepening gulf between them and her dad? Or will a crucial lapse in judgment and its repercussion end their relationship?

My review: This is an FQP book and one of my favorites that FQP has published. So much so that I usually read it once a year. Highly recommend!

Amazon Synopsis:

A Carol-award-winning finalist!

A brutal murder convinces Dr. Mia Kendall there’s more than she imagined to the mysterious spike in heart transplant rejections. Determined to find answers before she loses another patient, Mia gets sucked into a dangerous international medical web. With time running out for her youngest transplant recipient, Mia is forced to partner with a disillusioned ex-military pilot who flies brokered organs across East Africa. But searching for the truth will prove costly because there are some lines that should never be crossed.

A haunting story that will take you from the suburbs of Cincinnati to the jungles of Africa.

My review: This was a heart-pounding, compelling read. Highly recommend!

Synopsis: The world ended on a Thursday. World technology crashed, an alien race invaded, and my husband and my children were in different locations. To survive, my heart dug deep into the homestead. Hardship tested my ingenuity while loss challenged everything I believed in, but despite every kind of sin and suffering, my homestead remained true. There’s no place I’d rather be.

My review: A.K. Frailey’s newest book, Homestead, is a compelling read and particularly relevant for current day events. Highly recommend!

Now Available from FQP! Checkmate by Mina Ambrose

Checkmate, Shadows of the Son #4 by Mina Ambrose is now available on Kindle and in paperback.

Jude flies to California to search for his real parents and the truth of his origins but is left with more questions than answers

And unwilling to face the possibility that he may be half-vampire, he decides instead to concentrate on his quest, as the most immediate concern. He is convinced that Phaedra is the “damsel in distress” of his recurring nightmare and that it is his task to rescue her from the “dragon,” Charon.

He returns to the mansion for another renovation job (transforming the top floor into an observatory) and allows himself to be persuaded to join the vampires’ parties after hours. His hope is that he may learn the master’s plan for Phaedra and foil it.

Phaedra has been warned, but under the guise of a star party with her astronomy class, is lured to the mansion. Charon quickly ensnares her and she vanishes into the labyrinth. Jude begins a mad search for her, fearing what the master intends. But meddling with the powers of darkness brings dire consequences, and the price of saving her may be dearer than even he has reckoned.

Charon has promised that his vampire crew will become daywalkers, and he, lord of all. Is this to be the end of the world as we know it?

It’s available here on Kindle and at this link in paperback.

A World Such as Heaven Intended #FREE on #KINDLE

Today through Thursday, A World Such as Heaven Intended by Amanda Lauer, is FREE on Kindle.  This CALA-award-winning novel can be downloaded until Thursday for #free.

Synopsis: Amara McKirnan and Nathan Simmons share a devotion to their Catholic faith but their loyalties lie on opposite sides of the conflict. Dedicated to the Confederate cause, Amara offers to help out at her uncle’s makeshift hospital in Atlanta. Fate brought Nathan to their doorstep and into Amara’s life. Little does Amara know that the wounded soldier she cares for harbors a secret that will not only jeopardize his life but hers as well.

Follow Amara and Nathan’s story from the heart of war-torn Atlanta to the Northern Georgia battlefields to the plains of East Texas as their lives become intertwined in a way that shatters the separate worlds they once knew.

Reviews:
“Amanda Lauer brings history to life in this fast-paced, emotionally charged, splendid tale. Extremely enjoyable.”
May McGoldrick, International Bestselling Author of The Thistle and Rose, Secret Vows and the Highland Treasure Trilogy

“The South of 1864 springs to life in ‘A World Such as Heaven Intended.’ Rich in details of language, setting, and social mores, Lauer takes readers on the journey of her protagonist, Amara McKirnan, a strong woman ahead of her time who wrestles with her blended family and the horrors of the Civil War to find the peace and happiness she is convinced awaits her.”
Marni Graff, Author, The Nora Tierney Mysteries

“‘A World Such as Heaven Intended’ is a fast-moving historical romance that will keep you turning pages until the very end! An excellent read.”
Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur, Author, The Catholic Baby Name Book

“A charming romance with well-drawn characters and clear imagery, offering the reader a chance to slip away to another era and come home refreshed.”
A.K. Frailey, Author, The Deliverance Trilogy

Download your Kindle copy for FREE at this link.

An Open Book – March #openbook

I’m joining Carolyn Astfalk and Catholic Mom for An Open Book. Here’s what I’ve been reading and working on:

Synopsis: Catherine Doherty leads us into the riches of God’s boundless mercy as she teaches us the spirit, the liturgy, and the customs of the Lent and Easter season, including:

  • Practical guidance on preparing for the internal spiritual pilgrimage that is Lent.
  • Meditations on the meanings of the many holy days preceding and following Easter.
  • Traditions and customs which will help your family live the holiness of the Easter season.

After-dinner talks by Catherine Doherty, spiritual readings around the dining room table — on the spirit, liturgy and customs of Lent, Holy Week, the Easter Triduum and Paschaltide.

Catherine speaks on such topics as how to Prepare for Lent; Why Fasting; The Motive is Love; Sin, Repentance, Conversion. Also on Palm (Passion) Sunday; Holy Week; Holy Thursday: Priesthood and Eucharist; Good Friday; Holy Saturday: Christ’s Descent into Hades; and Christ is Risen! Then Paschaltime and Christ’s Ascension, Pentecost. A rich tapestry of scriptural reflections and Customs and Traditions to bring it all to life!

  • Excellent for personal and group study.
  • A wonderful resource for preachers and teachers!

My review: As we begin Lent today, I’m sharing one of my favorite Lent and Easter books. This beautiful book can help anyone maneuver through the “Season of Mercy.” Highly recommend!

Good Men and Grace by Alita Ngo

Coming Soon from FQP: Good Men and Grace is the story of an orphaned young man, Abel Wheaton, of mixed Anglo and American Indian descent, set in 1860, with flashbacks about 20 years into the past, in the U. S. Territories and states of the period.  Abel is a rider for the Pony Express.  On a few days’ break from his duties, he comes across the Pearces, a lost family of freed slaves traveling west from Chicago to Sacramento.  During Abel’s time with them, both heartwarming and heart-rending exchanges, and a life-threatening situation, take their toll as he gains greater insight into slavery in the South and a deeper understanding of himself and his own circumstances.  Join Abel, Jake, William, and of course, Grace, in a journey toward an unexpected, triumphant friendship.

Amazon Synopsis: From Alice and Abe to Zeb and Zipper, an alphabetical array of guests turns out for the biggest birthday party ever. But Hooper Humperdink isn’t on the guest list!

My review: I’ve been reading this one frequently with my two-and-a-half-year-old grandson. I say “with” because he knows this one by heart (like many books). This one is especially entertaining! At first, it seems the author wants to exclude Hooper from his birthday party, but in the end (spoiler alert), he decides he wants to invite Hooper to his party. A fun read!

Amazon Synopsis: BOSTON, 1793—Beautiful and artistic, the only daughter of a prominent merchant, Molly Chase cannot help but attract the notice of Federalist Boston—especially its men. But she carries a painful secret: her father committed suicide and she found his body. Now nightmares plague her day and night, addling her mind and rendering her senseless. Molly needs a home, a nurse, and time to grieve and to find new purpose in life. But when she moves in with her friends, the Robbs, spiteful society gossips assume the worst. And when an imprudent decision leads to public scandal, Molly is tempted to take the easy way out: a marriage of convenience.

Merchant sailor Josiah Robb is as familiar to Molly as a brother—as dear and as exasperating. Yet she is no sister to him. He hopes to marry her before anyone else does, but sailing the high seas leaves no time for convincing Molly that he is more than her teasing childhood friend. Josiah wants a new job and a fresh start, and when he agrees to carry a confidential letter to President Washington, his life is forever changed.

In the wake of tragedy, these longtime friends discover a new intimacy. But slander, confusion, absence, and a wealthy, conniving bully stand between them. And with French spies on the loose, they not only have to rescue their reputations—they have to protect their lives.

My review: Wonderful story and beautifully written. Highly recommend!

The Forgotten Victims of Clergy Abuse (Updated)

My latest post at Catholic Mom is a revised and updated article I originally wrote in 2018.

The Road to Hope copyright Joshua Hrkach

Almost four years ago, the revelations about the now-defrocked Theodore McCarrick and the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report were disturbing, especially to the most devout Catholics. Since then, many members of the Church have left in disgust. 

In the years that followed, revelations that homosexual networks exist within seminaries and dioceses have caused some Catholics to have a crisis of faith. Numerous seminarians have tried to alert higher-up prelates to no avail. It’s unacceptable that a bishop – or as in the case of McCarrick, a cardinal – would not only be complicit but also participate in the abuse. 

For every abuse reported, there are likely hundreds, perhaps thousands over the past 70-plus years, that were not—and have never been—reported.

Whenever I hear a story about clerical sex abuse, it opens a wound, not only because I’m Catholic but because my father was abused more than 70 years ago. He is one of many who never reported the (likely ongoing) abuse. I recently wrote a novel, Where Angels Pass, based on his story of abuse and the consequences on him and our family.

My father’s abuser was a priest who happened to be one of his teachers in high school. This information was something that my siblings and I didn’t find out until after my father died in 1978, as he had only told my mother about the abuse.

Back in the 1940s, Catholic laity viewed priests as sacred and placed them on a pedestal. My father couldn’t go to his parents or anyone else because he was ashamed, and he didn’t think anyone would believe him. To say the abuse confused him is an understatement. 

Dad later met and married my mom and tried to settle down into married life. But his troubles were far from over. He dealt with depression and other mental illnesses on and off for a few years before he had a mental breakdown in 1961 and was committed to the local psychiatric hospital. I remember visiting him there and, despite the odd surroundings, I was always happy to see my dad.

He was eventually diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and manic depression (now called bipolar disorder) and was prescribed a regimen of medication.

My dad continued to battle with mental illness for the rest of his life. He eventually became an alcoholic and died tragically at the age of 49. His life ended not unlike many other abuse victims.

When I first found out my father had been abused, I was angry, but my father’s troubled life made a lot of sense in light of his abuse. Of course, I wanted to strangle the priest who traumatized him.

There are many like my father out there, some living and some already deceased, who are/were unknown victims of clerical abuse.

But we as a family were (are) victims too. As a family, we watched my father struggle and suffer. We watched him go through drunken stupors and depressive episodes. We watched him get on and fall off the wagon too many times to count. It wasn’t unusual for him to break down and cry. While I know that many factors someone to have a mental breakdown or become an alcoholic, I believe the abuse contributed substantially to his ongoing despair.

To read the rest, click here.

Charlotte’s Honor #FREE on #Kindle

Charlotte’s Honor (Great War Great Love #2), is FREE on Kindle today through Tuesday! Just in time for Valentine’s Day!

Synopsis: After receiving notification that her brother –and only relative — is killed in action during the Great War, 21-year-old Charlotte Zielinski enlists as a medical volunteer. She eventually begins working in the death ward of the field hospital near Soissons, France, holding dying men’s hands and singing them into eternity.

Dr. Paul Kilgallen is a Canadian surgeon working at the field hospital. During a siege by the enemy, everyone evacuates except for Paul and Charlotte, who volunteer to remain in the basement of the chateau to care for the critically ill soldiers.

During those three days, Charlotte sees a side of Paul that very few have seen and finds herself falling in love with him. Before Paul leaves for the front, he abruptly tells her that he cannot love her, and it would be best to “forget him.”

Just when the war is coming to a close, Charlotte is surprised by two events that are destined to change her life forever.

Reviews:

Ellen’s ‘Great War~Great Love’ series illustrates on several levels how God is present even in the darkest times of human history. Amid enormous pain and suffering there is always a chance for mercy and redemption and often human love acts as the channel for God’s plan. Charlotte finds deep and lasting love where she had not thought to find it; it is through her imperfections that she finds that love. God can bring good out of the worst disasters as well as out of our failings. Not only did the novel remind me of those truths but it also brought home once again the price paid by our veterans. War is hell, yes. It brings out the worst in people and in societies. Yet even war can be turned to serve God’s purpose, as a testing ground for honor which many heroes and heroines uphold even in the bleakest of times.”   Elena Maria Vidal, author, The Paradise Tree

Charlotte’s Honor is a beautiful, tender, and moving story set during World War One.  The perfect mix of historical detail and romance, this second installment in Gable’s Great War Great Love Trilogy will not disappoint. Charlotte Zielinski,  to whom we were first introduced in Julia’s Gifts, is a strongly positive role model for our daughters. She endures trials throughout this story that most of us cannot imagine facing today, yet the genuine manner in which the characters react and respond rings true for all time. I would add Charlotte’s Honor to the must-read list for any historical fiction, mother-daughter generational, or virtue-based book club. Of course, Gable’s tales are perfectly delectable as a personal poolside treat as well!”       Jean Egolf, author,  the Molly McBride series

“Charlotte’s Honor includes a little bit of everything: WW1 history, sweet romance, and a little mystery/suspense. This page-turning love story (it’s a fast read!) is built on a foundation of faith and above all, the dignity of human life.  Charlotte (whose honor has more than one meaning here) devotes herself to the care of dying soldiers. It is through this calling that Charlotte meets and falls in love with Paul, a skilled surgeon who has closed his heart to the possibility of romance. Expect a little humor amidst the backdrop of wartime brutality and a couple of surprises along the way. Charlotte’s Honor is not only a pleasant romantic escape but edifying as well.” Carolyn Astfalk, author, Ornamental Graces, Rightfully Ours

“Set toward the end of the Great War, Charlotte’s Honor allows readers to glimpse ugliness and death, blossoming relationships, and the most challenging experiences a person could face, juxtaposing the brutality of war with the beauty of sacrificial love.”  Theresa Linden, award-winning author

“A charming story set in WW II France where love and faith endure through times of trial. Though Charlotte must face death every day, her commitment to kindness leads to hope and a new life.” A.K. Frailey, author of Last of Her Kind

“Ellen Gable delivers another impressive historical romance novel, a worthy sequel to her first book in the Great War Great Love series. When Charlotte Zielinski, a medical volunteer, meets skilled surgeon Dr. Paul Kilgallen at a field hospital in France during World War I, they face great hardships that require courage, dedication, hope—and faith. Charlotte’s Honor is an authentic story filled with compassion, self-sacrifice, and the true meaning of love. A wonderful read and highly recommended!”  Therese Heckenkamp, award-winning author

Excerpt:

May 1918, Vauxbuin Field Hospital, Near Soissons, France

The air was thick with the mineral stench of blood. Inside the canvas tent that served as Barrack Number 48, Charlotte searched for a place in the unconscious soldier’s body to insert the hypodermic.  The poor gentleman had burns and wounds everywhere, but she managed to find a one-inch diameter spot on his thigh in which to plunge the needle.  The man didn’t flinch, and Charlotte suspected that his injuries were too grave for him to survive.  She recited a silent prayer for this man’s soul, then moved onto the next soldier.

The large canvas tents that were part of the field hospital covered the lawn in front of the chateau. Most volunteers referred to it as a chateau because it looked the part with its high ceilings, plentiful rooms and marble floors. However, it wasn’t a castle. It was a 19th century country manor.

A tendril of dark brown hair slipped from her headscarf, and she tucked it back in. Charlotte Patricia Zielinski didn’t care much whether her unruly hair was tame, but she did care about keeping healthy. She wasn’t a large girl, nor was she small.  However, roughhousing with her brother Ian for so many years made her strong.

After preparing another soldier for the operating theater, she took a short break and sat on a bench near the tent.

She glanced up at the dark sky, enjoying the quiet. After the sunrise, she’d hear the distant booming that came with being ten miles from the front.

After her bout with influenza last month, she’d felt fatigued for weeks.  In the past few days, she had enough energy to move a mountain.

Sister Betty, the medical volunteers’ middle-aged supervisor, called to her from the barrack beside her, Number 49.  She was a big-boned woman who seemed taller because she always stood so straight.  Charlotte wasn’t sure whether it was because she was British or because she was a big woman, but she also had a booming personality and a loud voice.

Charlotte stood up to speak with Sister.

“How many more men have to be prepared for the O.R., Miss Zielinski?”

“Four, Sister.”

“Maybe you’d be of more use in this barrack.” She pointed toward Number 49.

“Certainly.”  She turned to alert her co-worker in 48, when Sister yelled, “Wait.”

Charlotte stopped. “Yes?”

“Perhaps you’d better stay where you are. If there are only four left to prepare, finish that duty, then report to this barrack.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

It took a bit of getting used to, but here in Europe, nurses were referred to as sisters.  And all sisters – and most medical volunteers – wore headscarves that looked like habits.

She approached a soldier on a cot, noticing the maple leaf on his collar. Canadians tended to be an agreeable bunch.  He pursed his lips as she stripped his clothes, wincing as bits of skin came off with his pants.  The poor fellow tensed, but Charlotte could only offer, “I’m so sorry.  I am doing my best not to hurt you.”

The dark-haired man attempted a smile.

An ear-piercing explosion caused the world around Charlotte to vanish, and she reflexively collapsed on the cot, falling across the soldier lying in front of her. Ears ringing, she remained still for what seemed like an hour but was likely a few minutes. Blinking, she opened her eyes and stared at the metal side of the cot in front of her and felt the soldier moving underneath her.

An Open Book – February 2022

Please join Carolyn Astfalk and Catholic Mom for An Open Book.

Here are the books I’ve been reading and/or working on.

Amazon Synopsis: This book contains 150 informative and challenging quotations of countless spiritual writers from across the centuries. Just commit to spending five minutes each day (preferably in the morning) reading, meditating, and pondering just one of those quotations. What is God trying to tell you? How will you respond? If you get stuck, you will find some helpful questions after each quotation to steer you in the right direction.

Put your thinking cap on and let God speak silently to your heart.

I can assure you, in God’s perfect timing, you will recognize that five minutes will not be enough for your daily conversation with Him. You will find a way to be with Him for a more extended period of time.

My review: Pondering Tidbits of Truth Volume 6 is a beautiful collection of challenging quotes from many spiritual writers. This is an ideal book to take to Adoration, on retreat, or just to have on hand for meditation/prayer time at home. It will help anyone who wants to grow in their relationship with God. Highly recommend! 5/5.

Amazon Synopsis: An indispensable prayer companion for those devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and for those who want to know more about His loving Heart. This treasury of prayers explains the Nine First Friday Devotion and offers practical and relevant ways to offer reparation to Jesus in our troubled and faithless times.

My review: This is a beautiful little book that teaches and guides those who are interested in offering reparation during our troubled times. Highly recommend. 5/5.

Amazon Synopsis: Come My Beloved: Inspiring Stories of Catholic Courtship is a celebration of faith and enduring love. This compilation includes 12 courtship/dating stories that will inspire, captivate and entertain readers. Included are the following stories: A widow with eight children meets a widower with six children; a woman prays to God for a husband and years later, finds herself falling in love with a seminarian; a man asks his live-in girlfriend “What if we stopped having sex?” and is greeted with tears of joy; an atheist falls in love with her Catholic Prince Charming; a couple meets through a Christian introduction service. What these couples have in common is a deep faith in God and faithfulness to the Catholic Church’s teachings.

My review: This was an absolute labor of love that is now eleven years old. Come My Beloved is only 9.99 USD for paperback and .99 for Kindle. Ideal for couples preparing for marriage and anyone who wants to read true stories of real couples meeting and marrying.

Amazon Synopsis: In this luminous memoir, a true American icon looks back on his celebrated life and career. His body of work is arguably the most morally significant in cinematic history, and the power and influence of that work are indicative of the character of the man behind the many storied roles. Sidney Poitier here explores these elements of character and personal values to take his own measure—as a man, as a husband and a father, and as an actor.

Poitier credits his parents and his childhood on tiny Cat Island in the Bahamas for equipping him with the unflinching sense of right and wrong and of self-worth that he has never surrendered and that have dramatically shaped his world. “In the kind of place where I grew up,” recalls Poitier, “what’s coming at you is the sound of the sea and the smell of the wind and momma’s voice and the voice of your dad and the craziness of your brothers and sisters…and that’s it.” Without television, radio, and material distractions to obscure what matters most, he could enjoy the simple things, endure the long commitments, and find true meaning in his life.

Poitier was uncompromising as he pursued a personal and public life that would honor his upbringing and the invaluable legacy of his parents. Just a few years after his introduction to indoor plumbing and the automobile, Poitier broke racial barrier after racial barrier to launch a pioneering acting career. Committed to the notion that what one does for a living articulates to who one is, Poitier played only forceful and affecting characters who said something positive, useful, and lasting about the human condition.

Here is Poitier’s own introspective look at what has informed his performances and his life. Poitier explores the nature of sacrifice and commitment, price and humility, rage and forgiveness, and paying the price for artistic integrity. What emerges is a picture of a man in the face of limits—his own and the world’s. A triumph of the spirit, The Measure of a Man captures the essential Poitier.

My review: I brought this out to read again after Poitier’s passing last month, and I can’t recommend this book highly enough. He was an outstanding actor, but also an outstanding human being. 5/5.

Amazon Synopsis: It’s 1931 in Hollywood, and Minerva Sinclaire is on the run for a murder she didn’t commit.

As the Great Depression hits the Midwest, Minerva Sinclaire runs away to Hollywood, determined to make it big and save the family farm. But beauty and moxie don’t pay the bills in Tinseltown, and she’s caught in a downward spiral of poverty, desperation, and compromise. Finally, she’s about to sign with a major studio and make up for it all. Instead, she wakes up next to a dead film star and is on the run for a murder she didn’t commit.

Only two unwilling men―Oscar, a Mexican gardener in danger of deportation, and Max, a too-handsome agent battling his own demons―can help Mina escape corrupt police on the take and the studio big shots trying to frame her. But even her quick thinking and grit can’t protect her from herself. Alone, penniless, and carrying a shameful secret, Mina faces the consequences of the heartbreaking choices that brought her to ruin . . . and just might bring her back to where she belongs.

My review: This was a compelling, enjoyable read. The writing is crisp and polished and the story and characters believable. Highly recommend! 5/5.

St. Agnes, Pray for Us!

Today is the Feast of St. Agnes, Virgin and Martyr. I knew little of this saint until I read about her during my research for A Subtle Grace. This book was a finalist in Religious Fiction in the 2015 IAN Awards. I dedicated this book to her.

It’s no surprise that St. Agnes’ feast day is so close to the U.S. March for Life (which is, sadly, canceled this year). Agnes’ name in Greek means “chaste, pure or sacred,” and in Latin, it means “lamb.” She is the patron saint of young girls, chastity, engaged couples, rape victims (and others). In past centuries, young girls would recite this prayer/poem to St. Agnes on the Eve of the feast day with the hope they would dream of their future husband.

Now good St. Agnes, play thy part,
And send to me my own sweetheart,
And show me such a happy bliss,
This night of him to have a kiss.

St. Agnes, Virgin and Martyr, pray for us!