Back From the Abyss #Review #prolife

Amazon Synopsis: Three tragic events happened during my lifetime. First, there was the treacherous attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese in 1941 when I was eleven years old. This was followed by the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki when I was fifteen. The third event was the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon when I was 71. These three events are part of my history, as they are for many of you, and are very much the motivation for writing this book and what led me to stand in conscience against the use of weapons of mass destruction while still a member of the USAF. God changed my heart of stone to a heart of flesh. Our hearts have been hardened and wounded by these tragic events and by the painful events of our own personal lives. We desperately need to face the nuclear age with the heart of God, not with our own thinking but with God’s. Only then can we experience an age of peace on earth.

My review: This extraordinary book is part memoir and part spiritual conversion story. The author, a retired United States Air Force officer, had a crisis of conscience when asked to be ready, willing and able to drop an atomic bomb on targets that could kill innocent civilians. The catastrophic effects of the bombs on the citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were brutal and long-lasting. Those who weren’t killed immediately were left in agonizing physical and emotional pain for many years.

The author makes the parallel between the atomic bombs’ destruction of innocent lives with the acceptance of the destruction of unborn children through abortion. That our (American) complicity in the use of the atomic bomb in many ways led to the murder of nearly 3,000 people on September 11, 2001.

When Margetts revealed that he, in good conscience, could not be called upon to drop one of these bombs, he was ridiculed and eventually driven out of the Air Force.

The author doesn’t just tell his story, he offers ways to atone for the tragedy of the atomic bombs and for the numbing of our country’s conscience in allowing the daily slaughter of tens of thousands of unborn children. Although the Supreme Court recently made Roe v Wade unconstitutional, many states now allow unborn children to be slaughtered right up to and including the moment of birth.

Reading this book will help anyone who believes that the atomic bombs were actually necessary in winning the war against Japan understand how this was not the case. This book will also give us steps to spiritually move forward and atone for these grievous sins.

I highly recommend this book to everyone!

An Open Book – February 2023

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

Summer at West Castle by Theresa Linden

Amazon Synopsis: College student Caitlyn Summer arrives at the Wests’ castle-like house to fill in for their live-in maid. After a recent decision blows her vision of the future, this ideal job and the peaceful surroundings are just what she needs to seek God’s will for her life. That is, until Jarret West, not wanting a repeat of past mistakes, backs out of a summer-long field study overseas and returns home. The two have never gotten along, and unforgettable baggage from the past makes it hard even to be cordial. While Jarret’s faults convince Caitlyn he hasn’t changed, she forces herself to offer kindness. Her act of mercy puts them on an unexpected path where Caitlyn is challenged to look beneath the surface and Jarret struggles to trust that God wills good for him.

Note: to avoid spoilers, read this story only after reading Anyone but Him.

My review: I thoroughly enjoyed this beautiful prequel of Anyone But Him and was so very sorry to see the story end. When I read Anyone But Him a few years ago, I had hoped the author would write the prequel of how this unlikely couple fell in love. Summer at West Castle does not disappoint, and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a clean but compelling romance! 

Ashes Visible & Invisible by Catholic Teen Authors

Now available from Catholic Teen Books (My short story is highlighted below):

Finishing the Journey: When Liz’s faith journey hits a roadblock, will an unexpected detour and chance encounter set her back on track?

Follow Me: A teen’s future was all set-before his tragic loss. But his best friend’s secret past just might save it.

Take Up Your Cross: Justin’s religion is outlawed. When an unbeliever asks him about the meaning of life, what can he say?

A Big Ask: Could God be asking Paul to sacrifice a piece of himself for Lent–literally?

Lent Royal & Ancient: A modern American teen discovers what faith, life and love are like in seventeenth-century Scotland.

No Greater Love: Teenager Lexie Dugan struggles to understand the sacrifice of Lent when she’s asked to help take care of her siblings while her pregnant mother is on bed rest.

A Very Jurassic Lent: When a risky Ash Wednesday mission to sterilize T. rex eggs goes wrong, fasting is the least of Joshua, Darryl, and Harry’s worries.

Lucy and the Forsaken Path: A medieval girl stranded on a forsaken path confronts threats from without and turmoil from within.

Bread Alone: Struggling with loss, hunger, and temptation, Ethan finds himself walking in the steps of Jesus.

Prepare the Way: Asher’s desire to prepare for the Messiah intensifies after he’s robbed by bandits, but would fighting alongside the Zealots be the best way?

The Saint Michael Chaplet – A Divine Catechesis on the Angels and Gifts of Heaven

By Carol Puschaver

Amazon Synopsis: What if an angel … were to teach you a prayer to honor the Angels? Not just any angel, mind you, and no ordinary prayer, either. Too impossible to believe?

Well, consider … St. Michael the Archangel, Prince of the Heavenly Host, revealed the Chaplet that bears his name to a Carmelite religious in 1751. As this book makes clear, he did much, much more than teach a formula of pious words, presenting instead a wonderment of divine catechesis on the nine celestial angel choirs. The author’s deeply insightful meditations on the Archangel’s teaching are bound to encourage a fresh and finely nuanced perspective on the angels, and also inspire a far deeper, richer appreciation of these marvelous beings who, among many, many wondrous deeds, guard [us] in all [our] ways. (Psalm 91. 10)

You do believe in angels, …don’t you?

My review: This is a beautiful book written by my friend Carol Puschaver. If you want to read more about St. Michael, the St. Michael Chaplet, and the Angels, this is the book for you. God’s people have been given a great gift in Saint Michael, protector and intercessor. The demons would like you to believe that they don’t exist. Not only do they exist, but they are constantly trying to turn God’s people away from Him. Highly recommend!

Into the Mind of Infinity by Joe Livingston

Amazon Synopsis: The author received a powerful spiritual experience, and this book is the result of that experience. It brings science and religion together to prove the existence of God.

My review: This is a beautiful little book that seeks to prove the existence of God. Many great points are made from a scientific standpoint, and it is definitely worthwhile reading.

Coming on Valentine’s Day from FQP:

Stitch in the Ditch (Mibs Monahan Mysteries #3) by Joan L. Kelly

Synopsis: When the curator of the Gregory Tuppence Museum is stabbed to death with an antique Toledo steel dagger, Lieutenant Jace Trueblood and his team of detectives work diligently to track down the killer.   They soon discover evidence that the murder was connected to the forgery and theft of valuable items from the museum.

Along with investigating the curator’s death, Jace, with the help of his intuitive fiancée, Mibs Monahan, search for the person providing fake identifications to high school students.  Fake licenses directly contributed to DUI accidents, resulting in injuries and death.

Despite the challenges and activities of their busy lives, the couple finds joy in preparing for their upcoming wedding.  However, that joy is disrupted when a DNA test shatters Mibs’ life.  This new information has her wondering who she really is and what she has to do with a twenty-year-old kidnapping.

Back From the Abyss by Robert Margetts

Back From the Abyss by Robert Margetts

Amazon Synopsis: Three tragic events happened during my lifetime. First there was the treacherous attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese in 1941, when I was eleven years old. This was followed by the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki when I was fifteen. The third event was the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon when I was 71. These three events are part of my history, as they are for many of you, and are very much the motivation for writing this book and what led me to stand in conscience against the use of weapons of mass destruction while still a member of the USAF. God changed my heart of stone to a heart of flesh. Our hearts have been hardened and wounded by these tragic events and by the painful events of our own personal lives. We desperately need to face the nuclear age with the heart of God, not with our own thinking but with God’s. Only then can we experience an age of peace upon the earth.

Purchase Back From the Abyss on Amazon.com:

Paperback

Kindle

Reviews:

This true account was written by the high-ranking Air Force officer’s moral confrontation with his personal Catholic beliefs and commands he was given. It makes very real the stand of the Catholic Church in light of the stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons. It presents excellent examples of moral decisions made in WWII and makes mention of considerations as recent as 9/11. It’s an engaging account of how Military Law can conflict with common religious moral obligation and the price this officer paid for following his conscience. Hendrick Soule

This book tells the journey of a soul, chronicling the courage and determination that is required to grow in union with God. The early chapters catch the reader immediately and won’t let go. The writer tells his story of conversion, and very quickly the struggle to be true to his conscience when it came to what he saw as unjust warfare. He clung to the truths in Vatican II documents as the foundation for his unwillingness to accept the profound rejection of the dignity of human beings.
The author weaves the connection between war atrocities and the numbing of our country’s conscience regarding the value of the human person, and how this is being experienced in today’s carnage of unborn children through legalized abortion. This brings him to what seems to be the primary focus of this most captivating book, in the closing chapters on Atonement, Covenant and Unity. This is certainly a book that is worth reading and that will feed your soul. Tom Scheuring

My full review coming next week!

Ashes: Visible & Invisible Virtual Blog Tour

By Theresa Linden, Marie Keiser, Cynthia Toney, Ellen Gable, Antony Kolenc, Amanda Lauer, Carolyn Astfalk, Leslea Wahl, T.M. Gaouette, and Corinna Turner.

  • When Liz’s faith journey hits a roadblock, will an unexpected detour and chance encounter set her back on track?
  • A teen’s future was all set—before his tragic loss. But his friend’s secret past just might save it.
  • Justin’s religion is outlawed. When an unbeliever asks him about the meaning of life, what can he say?
  • Could God be asking Paul to sacrifice a piece of himself for Lent—literally?
  • A modern American teen discovers what faith, life, and love are like in seventeenth-century Scotland.
  • Teenager Lexie Dugan struggles to understand the sacrifice of Lent when she’s asked to help take care of her siblings while her pregnant mother is on bed rest.
  • Asher’s desire to prepare for the Messiah intensifies after he’s robbed by bandits but would fighting alongside the Zealots be the best way?
  • When a risky Ash Wednesday mission to sterilize T. rex eggs goes wrong, fasting is the least of Joshua, Darryl, and Harry’s worries.
  • A medieval girl stranded on a forsaken path confronts threats from without and turmoil from within.
  • Struggling with loss, hunger, and temptation, Ethan finds himself walking in the steps of Jesus.

Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Ashes-Visible-Invisible-Leslea-Wahl/dp/B0BQ9ZXB4G/

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/63043118-ashes

Ashes Book Trailer on YouTube

Website: www.catholicteenbooks.com

Click here to enter the giveaway!

Advanced Reviews:

The Catholic Teen Book authors have done it again! We loved this book from page one; it’s a great way to dig deeper into Lent with your teens. The book has a story for everyone, and they all share the faith in different but wonderful ways. Highly recommend! Jennifer & Kate Waldyke, Co-hosts of Catholic Mom and Daughter

‘Ashes’, the latest compilation of stories from CatholicTeenBooks.com provides teen readers with plenty to think about. This compilation focuses on the theme of Lent, Easter, and our own mortality. In each of these stories, there is an encounter with death. Sometimes a death is pending or has just occurred or is threatening nearby. But the experienced and very talented authors at CatholicTeenBooks.com have not presented a depressing, frightening or dark anthology here. Instead, I was surprised to find that each story is uplifting, hopeful and very inspiring. What binds these stories is that each young person must make a leap of Faith, take a step into a fuller, more mature understanding of their Catholic Faith. Characters are called to forgive, to resist temptation, to be courageous, to be steadfast and responsible. All of them come to understand on a deeper level the sacrificial nature of Love.
I highly recommend this collection of stories from the authors at CatholicTeenBooks.com. Your teens will love how characters struggle when confronted with the stark reality of death but ultimately learn that with Faith, they can be heroes! Melinda Harrington Catholic Children’s Stories

This is the fourth anthology from the authors at the Catholic Teen Books collective. Each has been a great read. This Lenten volume is also, to be honest, my favourite of the four now. Each story was remarkable. Many of the contributors to this collection, in their own way, imitate Christ and are master storytellers in our own generation. I have a great deal of respect for the ten authors who contributed to this series. And a couple of them are among my all-time favourite authors. And I read a couple hundred books a year. This is a collection of 10 faith-filled stories by 10 great authors. In this collection, we have one short story from each of the contributors. Some contain characters you can encounter in novels by the authors. Some are from books and series that have been around for a few years and others to recent releases or forthcoming works. I really could not pick a favorite or least favorite. Each story is very well written. And I thoroughly enjoyed them all.
For fans of any of the authors in this collection, you need to pick this book up to read their contributions. For readers who love remarkable stories, this collection is for you also. And if you want some great reads that are clean Catholic fiction, this is the book for you. This anthology is Amazing! Steven R. McEvoy, BookReviewsAndMore.ca

Blog Tour Schedule and Reviews/Articles:

Jan 25  Ellen Gable                            Plot Line and Sinker                                                    

Jan 26  Barb S.                                   Franciscan Mom

Jan 27  Patrice Fagnant-McArthur    Spiritual Woman Thoughts Blog

Jan 28  Carolyn Astfalk                     My Scribbler’s Heart Blog

Jan 29  Amanda Lauer                       Blog

Jan 30   Marie Keiser                         Enjoying Womanhood

Jan 31  Barb S                                    CatholicMom.com

Feb 1   Corinna Turner                      Unseen Books

Feb 2   Catholic 365                          Catholic 365

Feb 3   Victoria Ryan                         Victoria Ryan Books

Feb 4   Mary Jo Thayer                     Blog

Feb 5   Theresa Linden                      Theresa Linden

Feb 6   Catholic Teen Books             Catholic Teen Books

Author Bios:

THERESA LINDEN is the author of award-winning Catholic fiction, including the West Brothers contemporary series and the Chasing Liberty dystopian trilogy. One of her great joys is to bring elements of faith to life through a story. She has more than a dozen published books, three of which won awards from the Catholic Press Association. Her short stories appear in several anthologies, including Secrets: Visible & Invisible, and Gifts: Visible & Invisible. Her articles and interviews can be found on various radio shows and in magazines, including EWTN’s The Good Fight, The National Catholic Register, Catholic Digest, Today’s Catholic Teacher, and Catholic Mom. Her books are featured online on Catholic Teen Books, Catholic Reads, FORMED, and Virtue Works Media. A wife, homeschooling mom, and Secular Franciscan, she resides in northeast Ohio with her husband and children. You can learn more about her at www.TheresaLinden.com.

ANTONY BARONE KOLENC is the author of The Harwood Mysteries, an exciting historical-fiction series for youth published by Loyola Press. He is a long-time member of the Catholic Writers Guild, and his novels all have the Catholic Writers Guild’s Seal of Approval. He retired as a Lieutenant Colonel from the U.S. Air Force Judge Advocate General’s Corps after 21 years of military service. A law professor who’s had his works published in numerous journals and magazines, Kolenc now speaks at legal, writing, and home-education events. He and his wife, Alisa, are the parents of five children and have been blessed with three wonderful grandchildren. To learn more about The Harwood Mysteries and its author, visit www.antonykolenc.com.

AMANDA LAUER loves writing books—particularly Young Adult Historic Fiction—that portray the Church in a positive light and depict God’s children endeavoring to become the best version of themselves every day. A journalist and proofreader by trade, Amanda embarked on her novelist career with the award-winning and best-selling Heaven Intended Civil War series. A World Such as Heaven Intended earned the 2016 YA CALA award. Currently, Amanda has several more books in the process of being published.  In addition to writing novels, Amanda works in the film industry writing and copy-editing screenplays. She was awarded Best Writer 2020 (Red Letter Awards) for her work as a co-writer on the movie The Islands. To learn more about Amanda, who’s blessed to be living in a world such as heaven intended, visit her website: www.AmandaLauer.com.

ELLEN GABLE HRKACH is an author of twelve books, ghostwriter, editor, self-publishing book coach, publisher, and contributor to multiple websites and books. She is the former president of the Catholic Writers Guild, and her books have won multiple awards: the IPPY Gold Medal (2010), and First Place in the Catholic Media Association Awards (2022). Married to her husband of 40 years, James, she is also the mother of five adult sons, three daughters-in-law, and Grammy to two precious grandchildren. When she’s not writing, Ellen can be found watching classic movies, researching her family tree, and playing with her grandchildren. Originally from New Jersey, Ellen lives with her husband in rural Ontario, Canada. Visit her website: www.EllenGable.com.

CAROLYN ASTFALK writes from the sweetest place on Earth, Hershey, Pennsylvania, where she lives with her husband and four children. In addition to her contemporary Catholic romances (sometimes referred to as Theology of the Body fiction), including the young adult coming-of-age story Rightfully Ours, she is a Catholicmom.com contributor. She is a member of the Catholic Writers Guild and Pennwriters. When she is not washing dishes, doing laundry, or reading, you can find her blogging about books, faith, and family life at www.CarolynAstfalk.com.

LESLEA WAHL is the author of the award-winning Catholic teen mysteries The Perfect Blindside, An Unexpected Role, Where You Lead, and eXtreme Blindside. The characters in this short story, Luke, Celia, Austin, and Grandma Grace, appear in her newest adventurous novel, A Summer to Treasure. Leslea’s journey to become an author came through a search for value-based fiction for her own children. She now not only writes for teens but also has become a reviewer of Catholic teen fiction to help other families discover faith-based books. Leslea lives in beautiful Colorado with her husband and children. The furry, four-legged members of her family often make cameo appearances in her novels. Leslea has always loved mysteries and hopes to encourage teens to grow in their faith through these fun adventures. For more information about her faith-filled Young Adult mysteries, please visit www.LesleaWahl.com.

T. M. GAOUETTE is the author of the Faith & Kung Fu series for young adults, as well as The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch and For Eden’s Sake. She also contributed to the last two Catholic Teen Books anthologies, Secrets: Visible & Invisible with her short story “Sister Francesca” and Gifts: Visible & Invisible with “Just Jesus.” Her novels have received the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval (except new releases for which the seal may be in process). Born in Africa, raised in London, England, Gaouette now lives on a small farm in New England with her husband, where she homeschools their four children, raises goats, and writes fiction for teens and young adults. A former contributor for Project Inspired, Gaouette’s desire is to instill the love of God into the hearts of her readers. You can find out more at www.TMGaouette.com.

CYNTHIA T. TONEY writes characters that show tweens and teens how wonderful, powerful, and valuable God made them. Her current novel will accompany The Other Side of Freedom that will give readers more of Robert Brown (a.k.a. Sal) and Antonina, the girl he left behind. Cynthia is also the author of the Bird Face series; 8 Notes to a Nobody, 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status, 6 Dates to Disaster, and 3 Things to Forget, as well as short stories in the Catholic Teen Books anthologies Secrets: Visible and Invisible and Gifts: Visible and Invisible. She is a member of the Catholic Writers Guild and a volunteer with the Independence Italian Cultural Museum in Louisiana. She has a passion for rescuing dogs from abuse, neglect, and euthanasia and lives with her husband and several canines. The public can also connect with her through her website http://www.CynthiaTToney.com and her blog http://www.BirdFaceWendy.wordpress.com. Look for her books and other writing at CatholicTeenBooks.com and her publisher’s website, WriteIntegrity.com.

MARIE KEISER is the author of Heaven’s Hunter. A former teacher, she now lives in Minnesota with her husband and young children. She is passionate about writing inspiring stories about people who struggle with Faith. When she’s not doing dishes, chasing toddlers, or changing diapers, she occasionally blogs about books, life, or ideas at EnjoyingWomanhood.com.

CORINNA TURNER is the author of the I Am Margaret and unSPARKed series for young adults, as well as stand-alone works such as Elfling and Mandy Lamb and the Full Moon (for teens) and Someday (for older teens and adults). She has just released The Boy Who Knew (Carlo Acutis) the first book in her new Friends in High Places series about friendship with the saints. All of her novels have received the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval (except new releases for which the seal may be in process). Liberation (‘I Am Margaret’ Book 3) was nominated for the Carnegie Medal Award 2016 and Elfling won first prize for “Teen and Young Adult Fiction” in the Catholic Press Association 2019 Book Awards. Several of her other books have been placed in the CPA Awards and the Catholic Arts and Letters Award.  Corinna Turner is a Lay Dominican with an MA in English from Oxford University, and lives in the UK. She has been writing since she was fourteen and likes strong protagonists with plenty of integrity. She used to have a Giant African Land Snail called Peter with a 6½” long shell—which is legal in the UK!—but now makes do with a cactus and a campervan. You can find out more at www.IAmMargaret.com.

Summer at West Castle VBT and Review

Today I’m participating in the Virtual Blog Tour for Summer at West Castle by Theresa Linden.

Synopsis: College student Caitlyn Summer arrives at the Wests’ castle-like house to fill in for their live-in maid. After a recent decision blows her vision of the future, this ideal job and the peaceful surroundings are just what she needs to seek God’s will for her life. That is, until Jarret West, not wanting a repeat of past mistakes, backs out of a summer-long field study overseas and returns home. The two have never gotten along, and unforgettable baggage from the past makes it hard even to be cordial. While Jarret’s faults convince Caitlyn he hasn’t changed, she forces herself to offer kindness. Her act of mercy puts them on an unexpected path where Caitlyn is challenged to look beneath the surface, and Jarret struggles to trust that God wills good for him.

My review: I thoroughly enjoyed this beautiful prequel of Anyone But Him and was so very sorry to see the story end. When I read Anyone But Him a few years ago, I had hoped the author would write the prequel of how this unlikely couple fell in love. Summer at West Castle does not disappoint, and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a clean but compelling romance! Note: To avoid spoilers, read Anyone But Him before you read this story.

About the Author: Theresa Linden is the author of award-winning Catholic fiction. One of her great joys is to bring elements of faith to life through a story. She has over a dozen published books, three of which won awards from the Catholic Press Association. Her articles and interviews can be found on various radio shows and magazines, including EWTN’s The Good Fight, The National Catholic Register, Catholic Digest, Catholic Teacher, and Catholic Mom. She is a member of the Catholic Writers Guild and CatholicTeenBooks.com. A wife, homeschooling mom, and Secular Franciscan, she resides in northeast Ohio with her husband and family.

Buy Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Summer-West-Castle-Theresa-Linden/dp/1734992956

Ebooks: https://books2read.com/u/4AvZ0q

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/65755374-summer-at-west-castle

Author website: https://www.theresalinden.com/westbrothers/summer-at-west-castle Silver Fire Publishing website: https://www.silverfirepublishing.com/west-brothers-series/summer-at-west-castle

Amazon: Anyone But Him

#AnOpenBook December

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

Christmas Joy With Grandma

by Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle

Synopsis: Take an Advent journey with Joseph, Anne-Marie, and Grandmother! Together, you’ll discover the story of Christmas and get ready to welcome Jesus into your own heart and home. Beautifully illustrated, this gentle, loving introduction to the true meaning of Christmas by celebrated author Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle will become a beloved book for every family and revisited each holiday season.

My review: Christmas Joy with Grandma is a lovely new children’s Christmas book by Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle. 

The cast of characters in this book includes Grandma, seven-year-old Joseph, his sister, five-year-old Anne-Marie, and Grandma’s kitty, Marmalade. The children have just moved into the house next to their grandmother and are delighted as they make their way from Thanksgiving to Christmas.

Before Thanksgiving, Joseph and Anne-Marie have seen Christmas decorations in the stores and other families’ houses and ask Grandma why she doesn’t have her decorations up. Grandma says, “It’s just that I don’t like to rush things. That’s why I have not started decorating for Christmas.”

She explains: “I want to wait patiently for Baby Jesus, you know, like Mary and St. Joseph did.”

Her way of decorating includes using a Nativity scene (but leaving the Baby Jesus figurine out until Christmas Day) and lighting an Advent wreath. A few weeks into Advent, Grandma, and the kids make Advent cookies, and Grandma gradually begins decorating her home until they’re closer to Christmas.

On the Fourth Sunday of Advent, Grandma reads the Christmas story from the Bible to her grandchildren. Christmas morning finally arrives, and Grandma, Joseph, Anne-Marie, and their parents exchange presents at the children’s house next door. Once all the gifts are opened, Grandma tells her grandchildren that it’s time to do something important. She takes them back to her house and brings out the Baby Jesus figure. Joseph and Anne-Marie put the Baby Jesus into the Nativity scene.

All in all, as a grandmother (my grandchildren call me Grammy), I thought this was a wonderful book. It’s the author’s first venture into writing fiction. It’s written at an appropriate level for children ages four and up. 

I liked the fact that the author talks about not rushing and waiting patiently for Baby Jesus. Our society is one where many (if not most) people tend to put up Christmas decorations even before Advent begins. It’s refreshing to read how Grandma doesn’t just do things because other people do them, but because “Grandma made her own decisions based on what she believed was best.”

The Adventures at Lily Creek, Book One:

A Hermitage of Her Own by Kimberly Cook

Synopsis: A Hermitage of Her Own is the first book in The Adventures at Lily Creek series, an exciting historical fiction for middle-grade readers set in Shenandoah, Virginia. The beloved main character, Gemma Porter, is imaginative, strong-willed, and constantly searching for adventure beyond her sleepy rural town. She relies deeply on her Catholic faith and her conscience to guide her through the mischief she often finds herself in. A Hermitage of Her Own tells the tale of Gemma and her friend Clare, along with two unsuspecting boys who find more than they could ever have imagined.

Available from Full Quiver Publishing!

Prodigal Daughters by Donna Steichen

Amazon Synopsis: In this memorable book, seventeen women of the Baby Boom generation tell their poignant personal stories of apostasy and repentance. Each left the Catholic Church to seek autonomy and fulfillment on the major cultural battlegrounds of this era. Each eventually turned homeward to find, like her prodigal brother in the best-loved of Christ’s parables, that her Heavenly Father had been calling her throughout her absence, watching and yearning for her return.

Feminists in the bureaucratic networks of Catholic dissent continually predict that women will abandon the Church en masse unless they are soon admitted to the hierarchy. The women who recount their experiences in this timely and important book prove the dissenters wrong. They are representative of a growing stream of “reverts” who have recognized and repented of their errors when they rediscovered the living heart of Christ at the center of the Church.

Today, when virtually all faithful Catholics wait and pray for the return of some family member or friend who has strayed from the Church, these accounts of faith reborn offer hope and direction to lift the heart of every reader.

My review: I rediscovered this book when we cleaned off our extensive bookshelves. This is an excellent read about seventeen women leaving the Church and eventually returning home. Highly recommend.

Ashes: Visible & Invisible by Catholic Teen Books Authors

Synopsis: Coming Soon from Catholic Teen Books Authors Theresa Linden, Marie Keiser, Cynthia Toney, Ellen Gable, Antony Kolenc, Amanda Lauer, Carolyn Astfalk, Leslea Wahl, T.M. Gaouette, and Corinna Turner.

  • When Liz’s faith journey hits a roadblock, will an unexpected detour and chance encounter set her back on track?
  • A teen’s future was all set—before his tragic loss. But his friend’s secret past just might save it.
  • Justin’s religion is outlawed. When an unbeliever asks him about the meaning of life, what can he say?
  • Could God be asking Paul to sacrifice a piece of himself for Lent—literally?
  • A modern American teen discovers what faith, life and love are like in seventeenth-century Scotland.
  • Asher’s desire to prepare for the Messiah intensifies after he’s robbed by bandits but would fighting alongside the Zealots be the best way?
  • Lexie learns more than a lesson in sacrifice when her pregnant mother asks her to help care for her siblings while her mom is on bed rest.
  • When a risky Ash Wednesday mission to sterilize T. rex eggs goes wrong, fasting is the least of Joshua, Darryl, and Harry’s worries.
  • A medieval girl stranded on a forsaken path confronts threats from without and turmoil from within.
  • Struggling with loss, hunger, and temptation, Ethan finds himself walking in the steps of Jesus.

And now for a few of my favorite Advent books!

Synopsis: Discover how Christians celebrated Christmas before the days of television, shopping malls, and the Internet. In Donkey Bells: Advent and Christmas, Catherine’s three-in-one book on this most expectant of holiday seasons is an ideal Advent book to be used every year.

My review: My favorite Advent book and one that I read every year at this time is a book called Donkey Bells. I enjoy reading this inspiring book curled up in a comfortable chair by the wood stove, a hot chocolate or apple cider beside me, Advent and Christmas music playing quietly in the background.

I especially appreciate the heartwarming stories (such as Donkey Bells) as Catherine Doherty was a captivating storyteller. Also included in this book are customs and traditions like celebrating St. Nicholas Day, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, The O’Antiphons, the blessing of the Christmas tree and Advent wreath, the Feast of the Holy Family, and the Feast of the Epiphany. Meditations including The Gurgle of a Baby and Looking into the Child’s Eyes are extraordinary and beautifully written.

This book provides an inspirational way for children, teens, and adults to prepare their hearts for Christmas.  Available on Kindle and in paperback.

Synopsis: Beginning with the first day of Advent and continuing through the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord, these selections from the immortal pen of Fulton J. Sheen encourage readers to explore the essence and promise of the season.

My review: This is a beautiful Advent devotional that focuses on quotes from Archbishop Fulton Sheen that are taken from his many published books. Editor Judy Bauer includes many quotes that will inspire the reader to grow in his/her prayer life, to embrace Advent, and to become more prepared to celebrate the arrival of the Savior. Each day contains a Scripture passage relating to the daily readings, a short paragraph from one of Sheen’s books, and a prayer written by Bauer. It only takes a few

An Open Book #openbook November

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

Synopsis: In Champions of the Rosary, Fr. Calloway has written what is probably the most comprehensive book ever published on the rosary. The author deftly negotiates the complexities of the story of the rosary, weaving the historical, theological, and devotional strands into a veritable masterpiece of scholarship and piety. This book should turn every one of its readers into a champion of the rosary!

My review: I received this book (and it’s signed by the author!) back in 2017 and have read snippets here and there. This past month, being the month dedicated to the Holy Rosary, I picked it up and started reading and couldn’t stop. It’s a fascinating and compelling history of the Rosary, of the many “Champions of the Rosary,” and how the Rosary can be used as a spiritual weapon. Throughout the book, he writes of the many wartime miracles attributed to the Rosary, as well as other unexplained phenomena, cures, and miracles. “Praying the Rosary is like praying the Word of God,” he writes. I highly recommend this extraordinary book!

Bonvida’s Awakening by C.D. Smith

Coming Soon!

Synopsis: Darkness has awakened. . . 

Eighteen-year-old Atticus wakes from a fall and learns he comes from an ancient bloodline and that he alone can wield the Sword of Bonvida. To do this, he must first travel treacherous lands to gather the shards that give the sword its power. Then he must face Luvanasis, who has escaped the dark realm of Calsriv with his army of Arcods and taken control of Bonvida. But how can he accomplish any of this when he struggles to accept his own identity as the chosen one?

Left as an infant in the hands of farmers, Atticus longs for adventure and hopes to one day become a knight. But now that the adventure lay at his feet, he’s not sure he has what it takes. Compelled to help in this great mission, others join Atticus: Daria, his adventurous sister; Zane, a scholar with knowledge of the old stories and prophecies; Prince Victor from the kingdom of El-Valr; Barlos, Victor’s army commander; Meg, a young girl sent off by her father; and Lena from the sea colony of the Brus. As the evil wakes, they must keep faith and hope, trusting one another and persevering in their quest. 

My review: I’ve been coaching this new author to publish his first book. It’s an intriguing book that will please fantasy lovers.

Amazon Synopsis: Richard Belzer (Law & Order) and David Wayne are back to set the record straight after Dead Wrong; this time they’re going to uncover the truth about the many witness deaths tied to the JFK assassination. For decades, government pundits have dismissed these “coincidental” deaths, even regarding them as “myths” as “urban legends.”

Like most people, Richard and David were initially unsure about what to make of these ‘coincidences’. After all, events don’t “consult the odds” prior to happening; they simply happen. Then someone comes along later and figures out what the odds of it happening were. Some of the deaths seemed purely coincidental; heart attacks, hunting accidents. Others clearly seemed noteworthy; witnesses who did seem to know something and did seem to die mysteriously.

Hit List is a fair examination of the evidence of each case, leading to (necessarily) different conclusions. The findings were absolutely staggering; as some cases were clearly linked to a “clean-up operation” after the murder of President Kennedy, while others were the result of ‘other forces’. The impeccable research and writing of Richard Belzer and David Wayne show that if the government is trying to hide anything, they’re the duo who will uncover it.

My review: Reading about the Kennedy Assassination is one of my guilty pleasures — that, and True Crime. This book encompasses both of those topics. I learned about this book while watching one of Richard Belzer’s (Law & Order) interviews on YouTube. Fascinating read. Recommend. 4/5.

Amazon Synopsis: #1 New York Times bestselling author Nelson DeMille returns with a blistering thriller featuring his most popular series character, former NYPD homicide detective John Corey, called out of retirement to investigate a string of grisly murders much too close to home.

In his dazzling #1 bestseller, Plum Island, Nelson DeMille introduced readers to NYPD Homicide Detective John Corey, who we first meet sitting on the back porch of his uncle’s waterfront estate on Long Island, convalescing from wounds incurred in the line of duty. A visit from the local Chief of Police results in the legendary Detective Corey becoming involved in the investigation of the murders of a married couple who were scientists at the top-secret biological research facility on Plum Island.

Fast forward through six more bestselling John Corey novels and The Maze opens with Corey on the same porch, but now in forced retirement from his last job as a Federal Agent with the Diplomatic Surveillance Group. Corey is restless and looking for action, so when his former lover, Detective Beth Penrose, appears with a job offer, Corey has to once again make some decisions about his career—and about reuniting with Beth Penrose.

Inspired by, and based on the actual and still unsolved Gilgo Beach murders, The Maze takes the reader on a dangerous hunt for an apparent serial killer who has murdered nine—and maybe more—prostitutes and hidden their bodies in the thick undergrowth on a lonely stretch of beach.

As Corey digs deeper into this case, which has made national news, he comes to suspect that the failure of the local police to solve this sensational case may not be a result of their inexperience and incompetence—it may be something else. Something more sinister.

My review: I’ve been waiting for this book for over a year. It doesn’t disappoint. John Corey, the politically incorrect detective with politically incorrect humor and unorthodox investigative skills, is my favorite of DeMille’s characters. Besides being a compelling and entertaining story, Corey’s humor is laugh-out-loud funny! Recommend. (Warning: language and graphic violence.)

Infant Loss Awareness Month #neverbestill

My latest post at Amazing Catchecists: The entire month of October is devoted to Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness.

James and I are blessed, honored, and grateful to be the parents of five adult sons and three beautiful daughters-in-law (as well as two grandchildren!)

But not a day goes by that I don’t think about those seven precious babies we lost through miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy. This month, we remember in a special way these seven little souls (and intercessors) in heaven.

Here are some of my reflections on pregnancy loss:

Among Women Podcast Episode 89 (Pat Gohn interviewed me about miscarriage and pregnancy loss)

Five Little Souls in Heaven    (This article was written 27 years ago and published in the Nazareth Journal)

Difficult Anniversaries/Responsible Parenthood

One of the themes of my first novel, Emily’s Hope, is pregnancy loss.

This excerpt describes Emily’s loss of baby “Seth.”

“I need to push.” She wanted so desperately not to push, to allow her baby to stay inside of her, and for her to continue to nourish and nurture her child, but her body wouldn’t allow that. She pushed only twice and her small child was born. Emily heard a sound like a kitten crying, then realized that her baby had let out a small, soft, weak cry.

As soon as the umbilical cord was cut, the nurse immediately carried the baby across the room as the pediatric staff attempted to work on their child. Emily and Jason sat quietly, their hearts heavy with emotion. A few minutes later, she felt another contraction and her placenta was delivered. She could hear a nurse referring to “him,” and realized that their child was another boy. After a few minutes, the doctor brought him back, his small form still hidden in the blue hospital blanket. He spoke in a hushed, almost apologetic voice, “There is nothing we can do for him.”

He handed the tiny less-than-one-pound baby boy to his mother. Jason held onto Emily’s shoulder and watched as she cradled the smallest baby they had ever seen. He was so perfect and looked identical to their oldest son, Jake. His small body was covered with minute white hairs. He was perfect as he struggled to breathe. He was perfect as he opened his mouth to cry. Emily held her new son as gently as she could. Jason reached over and poured a few drops of water on him and said, “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Emily could feel the vibration of his tiny heart
beating fast.

The nurse came in with a Polaroid camera and asked if they wanted her to take a photo of their child. Emily nodded as the nurse took a photo of her and Jason and their tiny son. She gazed in awe at this miniature human being and marveled at the fact that even though he was tiny, he was so perfect. His little hands looked like a doll’s hands. She removed the baby blanket and laid his small, warm body on her chest. She could feel his heart beating rapidly. After several minutes, she wrapped him again in the small blue blanket.

Then, in an instant, he was still. She could feel that his heart had stopped, and he wasn’t breathing, but he continued to feel warm and soft. He looked like a sleeping angel.

Excerpt copyright 2005 Ellen Gable (End of excerpt.)

Here is a list of Catholic novels with miscarriage/baby loss as a theme.

In Name Only by Ellen Gable

A Subtle Grace by Ellen Gable

Stealing Jenny by Ellen Gable

A World Such as Heaven Intended by Amanda Lauer

Rose, Sola by Carmela Martino

The Rose and the Sword by Gina Marinello-Sweeney

Bane’s Eyes by Corinna Turner

Ornamental Graces by Carolyn Astfalk

If you have lost a baby through miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth, or infant death, please click the link above “Baby Loss” for resources and helpful links.

In memory of our seven little souls in heaven:

Baby Hrkach Twins (June 1986)

Baby Hrkach  (February 1991)

Baby Hrkach  (June 1991)

Mary Elizabeth Hrkach (June 1993)

Seth Hrkach  (April 1998)

Lucy Hrkach (March 2006)

An Open Book – October 2022

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

Mary’s Life Journey & Her Amazing Yes by Denise Mercado

Synopsis: (will be available October 21 via Amazon.)

Who is Mary, and why is she so important to the Catholic faith?

Denise Mercado invites readers to explore this question with her as she uncovers the meaning behind the rosary and other important Catholic traditions.

After being raised as a Catholic, Denise finds herself distracted by all life has to offer. When her youngest son is diagnosed with a terrible illness, however, she begins to question her beliefs and sets out on a quest to discover the truth.

Denise wanders through Protestantism, reading spiritual writings and attending a nondenominational church, but something is missing.

Denise returns to her roots and digs deep, investigating the rosary and its importance in her spiritual journey. She realizes that the rosary strengthens her faith and helps her navigate life’s troubles. Denise begins to look at the life of the Blessed Mother, Mary, in the Bible, the Infancy Gospels, and the apocryphal writings.

Join Denise as she shares her personal faith journey and the research that helped to shape it. You will come away with a greater appreciation for the stamina and endurance of the Mother of Our Lord and learn about the important origins of many Catholic beliefs.

My review: This is a wonderful book that outlines the life of Mary with the author’s thoughts as well as autobiographical information. It’s written in a more academic style that is refreshing in this day and age of so many self-publishing authors. Highly recommend.

Amazon Synopsis: He presided over 61,000 abortions—one of which was suffered by his then-girlfriend—and directed the largest abortion clinic in the world. He had helped to legalize abortion in the first place.
One day, he had a change of heart. One day, he found God.
At the drop of a hat, an abortion doctor renounced his profession—and his atheism—for pro-life advocacy and Christianity.
In the most shocking revelations ever expressed in an autobiography, one man unveils his entire life story, detailing countless events—from his gruesome abortion procedures to his conversion and involvement in The Silent Scream.
Discover one man’s incredible journey from death to life in Bernard Nathanson’s The Hand of God.

My review: I bought this book after watching Roe v. Wade on Netflix or Prime. The content of the movie was outstanding, but the acting, writing and directing was, unfortunately, mediocre. However, it made me want to read about Bernard Nathanson’s conversion (from atheist-abortionist to pro-life doctor to Catholic). I’m just starting this book, but it’s excellent already.

Redemption (Shadows of the Sun #5)
by Mina Ambrose

Synopsis: Now available for pre-order from Full Quiver Publishing!

Unnoticed by all except Phaedra, Jude’s body has been spirited away by Dr. Lee Davis and his henchmen in the midst of the great battle between Charon’s legions and Mara’s VK army.

Mara and the Prince set out, intending to track down the villains and retrieve the body of their son. Phaedra is left desolate.

Meanwhile, Jude awakens in the mad scientist’s lab and finds himself in the hands of unscrupulous researchers who mean to study this half-human, half-vampire creature. But Dr. Davis is not content with that; he has mad plans for using Jude’s preternatural powers for his own gain.

Forced to play the doc’s infernal game in order to save his loved ones, Jude finds himself battling yet another “dragon,” perhaps worse than the first. It seems there is no way out, but that he must finally bow to Dr. Lee’s indomitable will—at the cost of his freedom, his sanity, perhaps his very life.

Or will Phaedra find the key so that Mara and the Prince can locate him in time to fly to his rescue?

Arnprior Author’s New Novel Wins Award

The local newspaper published an article about my newest award.

Photo by James Hrkach

Local author Ellen Gable Hrkach is already an award-winning author whose books have received top prizes in various fiction awards. But, for Hrkach, the award for her newest book is particularly satisfying. Where Angels Pass, Hrkach’s twelfth book and based on a true story, won First Place in the Catholic Media Association Book Awards in the category of Catholic Novels (Educational). Her book also won Honorable Mention in an additional CMA category of Best Book by a Small Publisher. 

She says, “I’m grateful for any awards or recognition, but to win a CMA Book Award is a bucket list item that I can now check off.”  The CMA judges gave this comment about Hrkach’s book: “This is a timely and well-written story, showing the effects of child abuse by a priest, not only on the victim but also on the victim’s family. A worthwhile read!”

Hrkach explains, “Where Angels Pass tells the fictionalized story of my father’s abuse and the ensuing tragedies that befell our family because of that abuse. My siblings and I didn’t find out about the abuse until after my father died. When I discovered the reason he had such a troubled life, it all made sense to me.”

By writing this book, Hrkach wanted to share that despite the clerical abuse that had occurred for decades in the Catholic Church – and specifically with her father – her own Catholic faith, although tested, prevailed nonetheless. Similarly, her abused father remained a Catholic until his tragic death. She says, “I had a beautiful relationship with my dad and, despite all the difficulties, he was a wonderful and caring father.” Author Jim Sano says that the book is “a love story of a daughter for her father…that will surely touch people in a profound way.”

Former attorney and author Michael Seagriff says, “Ellen Gable has done a great service to our Church, the victims of this dreaded abuse, and particularly to their families whose suffering has gone virtually unnoticed. Masterful job mixing fact with fiction.”

Originally from the Philadelphia-South Jersey area, Hrkach is now a dual citizen. She began writing religious fiction as a hobby twenty years ago when her five sons were small children. “When I first started writing, I planned to eventually get around to working on a story about my father’s life, but for twenty years, I couldn’t actually sit down and write the story, partly because it was too difficult to relive our family’s most disturbing experiences.”  Then, Hrkach relates that, “Last summer, I just sat down and wrote for three weeks until I finished the first draft. Yes, it was excruciatingly painful to write about, but it was also very therapeutic.”

Six of Hrkach’s books have been translated into various languages, and the author’s books have been collectively downloaded 780,000 times on Kindle. To date, she has published twelve original works, has ghostwritten five others, and has contributed to numerous other books and websites.  Find out more about her at http://www.ellengable.com.

Where Angels Pass is available in ebook, paperback and hardcover on Amazon and through the author: fullquiverpublishing@gmail.com