Extreme Blindside – New Release by Leslea Wahl #newrelease

EB new release (1)

Synopsis: Extreme Blindside follows teen snowboarder Jake Taylor and his aspiring-reporter girlfriend, Sophie, as they struggle to navigate his newfound fame and all that comes with it. When Jake accepts a gig as the celebrity spokesperson for a new state-of-the-art athletic training facility, he hopes that his fame will bring some attention to its accessibility for Special Olympians and para-athletes. He agrees to do some publicity promotion and to participate in the facility’s first competition. But Jake gets far more than he bargains for as he becomes further embroiled in a world of reporters, gushing female fans, and bitter athletic rivals. In the chaos of it all, he begins to rely more and more on God’s help to navigate the ins and outs of his job, his public interactions, and his relationship with Sophie.

As Sophie struggles to accept their changing relationship and still cover the story of his first competition at the new facility, she begins to wonder if Jake might be in real danger, as one by one athletes for the upcoming competition are sabotaged or injured. As the competition approaches, things begin to get dangerous. Time is running out for Jake and Sophie to figure out what is going on before he is also sabotaged . . . or worse. With thrilling adventures and real teen struggles, Extreme Blindside inspires teens to consider how their faith in God might guide them in their own lives and relationships. Fast-paced and exciting, this book is an engaging read for teens or young adults who enjoy stories about sports, adventures, mysteries, or fame.

To buy Extreme Blindside:

Amazon

Pauline Press

The Big Three TOB

An Open Book – January #openbook

I’m joining with Carolyn Astfalk and Catholic Mom for “An Open Book.”  Here’s what I’ve been reading over the past month (and will be reading this month).

Front Cover Final revisedsm

The Lion’s Heart by Dena Hunt

Amazon Synopsis: Is love ever wrong?Paul Meyer has never let anyone get too close.Until Max.The Lion’s Heart is a heart-rending story about love and sacrifice. The emotional struggle of Paul’s same-sex attraction, the guilt he feels, and his ambivalence toward his Catholic faith all come together in this look inside the heart of a tortured man. “Dena Hunt is a consummate story-teller who does not shirk or shy away from the difficult questions about life and love that her story raises. The Lion’s Heart contains not only the loves of lovers, spouses, parents, and children but also the demons and dragons that selfishness unleashes. The Lion’s Heart is not for the faint-hearted, nor is it for the hard-hearted. It pulsates with a passion that will bring true hearts to their knees.” Joseph Pearce, author of The Unmasking of Oscar Wilde, co-editor of the St. Austin Review

My review: I reread a few weeks ago in preparation for a radio interview.  The interviewer wanted to ask me about a “Catholic novel that impacted me.”  I know I am slightly biased because I published this book, but even before I published it, I knew it was an extraordinary book.  The author brilliantly illustrates the Church’s teachings on sexuality through the story and characters. Highly recommend.

Barron

Letter to a Suffering Church by Bishop Robert Barron

Amazon Synopsis: The sexual abuse scandal has gripped the Catholic Church for the past thirty years, and continues to wreak havoc even today. It’s been a diabolical masterpiece, one that has compromised the work of the Church in every way and has left countless lives in ruin. Many Catholics are understandably asking, Why should I stay? Why not abandon this sinking ship before it drags me or my children under? In this stirring manifesto, Bishop Robert Barron, founder of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, explains why this is not the time to leave, but the time to stay and fight. Reading the current crisis through the lenses of Scripture and Church history, Bishop Barron shows that we have faced such egregious scandals before; that the spiritual treasures of the Church were preserved by holy men and women who recommitted themselves to fighting evil; and that there is a clear path forward for us today. For Catholics questioning their faith, searching desperately for encouragement and hope, this book will offer reasons to stay and fight for the Body of Christ.

My review: I received this book for free from a local parish and read it one Sunday afternoon in December.  Bishop Barron gives a lot of excellent insight and guidance regarding the Church scandals.  Highly recommend (and only .75 on Kindle!)

 

book-of-jotham

The Book of Jotham by Arthur Powers

Synopsis: For 23 years the completed manuscript of The Book of Jotham sat in the author s desk drawer typewritten collecting dust and time. On an early autumn day in 2012, the manuscript arrived at Tuscany Press, and we discovered this compelling and moving story.

Jotham is a mentally challenged man-child who, like the other apostles, follows Jesus as Christ carries out his ministry and experiences death by crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension. Yet the other apostles the dedicated Mary, Peter, Thomas, and the rest while they care for Jotham and look out for him, don t understand why Jesus loves him so. Thomas even says, after Jesus offers a parable, I don t see why all the pots can t be strong and beautiful.

Jotham may be different, but through him, we come to see Jesus and Jotham not just with our eyes, but also with our hearts.

My review:  I read this again in preparation for FQP publishing the second edition of this book (hopefully before June!)  This is another book that is brilliantly written through the eyes of a mentally challenged man who follows Jesus. It’s a short read, but is very powerful.

 

Rule

Mortal Danger by Ann Rule

Amazon Synopsis: Featured here is the case of a Southern California family man who lured a beautiful flight attendant into a passionate and dangerous relationship. Other cases include that of the woman who masterminded her husband’s murder to gain his inheritance…the monstrous sadist whose prison release damaged a presidential candidate’s campaign and ended in a bitter double tragedy in a quiet neighborhood three thousand miles away…the shocking DNA link between a cold-blooded crime and a cold case…and inside the horrific case of the man who crossed an ocean and several countries to stalk the Eurasian beauty who had fled from him in desperation.

My review: Every now and then, I enjoy reading about true crime cases and Ann Rule is never a disappointment.  She takes the reader through cases with great attention to detail.  Recommend.

 

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Five Days in November by Clint Hill and Lisa McCubbin

Amazon Synopsis:  Don’t miss the New York Times bestseller Five Days in November, where Secret Service agent Clint Hill tells the stories behind the iconic images of those five infamous, tragic days surrounding JFK’s assassination, published for the 50th anniversary of his death.

On November 22, 1963, three shots were fired in Dallas, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and the world stopped for four days. For an entire generation, it was the end of an age of innocence.

That evening, a photo ran on the front pages of newspapers across the world, showing a Secret Service agent jumping on the back of the presidential limousine in a desperate attempt to protect the President and Mrs. Kennedy. That agent was Clint Hill.

Now Secret Service Agent Clint Hill commemorates the fiftieth anniversary of the tragedy with this stunning book containing more than 150 photos, each accompanied by Hill’s incomparable insider account of those terrible days. With poignant narration accompanying rarely seen images, we witness three-year-old John Kennedy Jr.’s pleas to come to Texas with his parents and the rapturous crowds of mixed ages and races that greeted the Kennedys at every stop in Texas. We stand beside a shaken Lyndon Johnson as he is hurriedly sworn in as the new president. We experience the first lady’s steely courage when she insists on walking through the streets of Washington, DC, in her husband’s funeral procession.

A story that has taken Clint Hill fifty years to tell, this is a work of personal and historical scope. Besides the unbearable grief of a nation and the monumental consequences of the event, the death of JFK was a personal blow to a man sworn to protect the first family, and who knew, from the moment the shots rang out in Dallas, that nothing would ever be the same.

My review: My parents were devastated at President Kennedy’s assassination. I was only four years old at the time, but all I remember is seeing my parents cry and the beating of the drums during the televised funeral. Ever since then, I’ve read many books on the assassination.  This one was particularly interesting in that it tells the story from the POV of the secret service agent assigned to Jackie Kennedy.  Compelling read.  Highly recommend.

 

In Name Only Coming Soon to #Audible

INO AB cover

I’ve just approved the Audible edition of

In Name Only so it will soon be available on #Audible!

(Hopefully before the end of the year!)

Synopsis:  Book One, “O’Donovan Family Series.”

1876, Philadelphia. Caroline Martin’s life has finally taken a turn for the better. After years of hard work, she has met a virtuous and wealthy man whose love seems to promise the kind of life realized only within the comforting novels she keeps on her night table. Tragedy, however, will teach Caroline of the complexity with which God Himself authors the lives of those who turn toward him. Gold Medal winner for Religious Fiction in the 2010 IPPY Awards.

A Love Such as Heaven Intended .99 on #Kindle #bookblast

A Love Front Only

A Love Such as Heaven Intended by Amanda Lauer

This month’s CWG #Bookblast is A Love Such as Heaven Intended (Book 3 of the Heaven Intended Series) Only .99 on #Kindle #LTO  Click here for Kindle edition!

Synopsis:

In A Love Such as Heaven Intended, budding Civil War socialite Josephine Bigelow is inspired by the words of Louisa May Alcott to make a name for herself as an investigative writer covering the plight of Confederate soldiers held in Federal prisons. Little did she know that one of the inmates she would encounter was her brother’s roommate from West Point Military Academy.

Even though her father is a Union brigadier general, Josephine’s infatuation with the handsome Confederate soldier Michael McKirnan is rekindled. As captivating as Josephine is, the last thing Michael needs is to entangle that beauty into his life of intrigue. The strong-willed Josephine will not be deterred and their lives become intertwined as they embark on a journey of a lifetime, trying to stay one step ahead of the military and a madman bent on revenge. As they journey from Washington, D.C., to St. Louis, Atlanta, and finally East Texas, the two of them discover what love, faith, compassion and loyalty truly mean.

Reviews:

“A Love Such as Heaven Intended by Amanda Lauer is a sweet love story that history lovers are sure to appreciate. I enjoyed the first two books in the Heaven Intended series, so it was fun diving into the third book. We even get a glimpse at characters from the previous two books. Fans of historic fiction are going to love this!”  Theresa Linden, award-winning author

“Thoroughly enjoyable! This book abounds with the virtues of faith, hope and love.  Lauer shows us that even during times of war, love wins.” Virginia Lieto,  Author, Editor and Public Speaker

“A Love Such as Heaven Intended is a sweeping love story that is nearly impossible to put down. With equal parts intriguing adventure, fascinating history lesson, and blossoming romance, Amanda Lauer has another hit on her hands.”  Leslea Wahl, Author of The Perfect Blindside, 2018 Catholic Press Association winner

“The third installment in Amanda Lauer’s Civil War romance series matches beautiful and determined Josephine with Michael, a West Point Military Academy graduate who seems to be on the wrong side of the conflict. Filled with historical and military detail and a unique setting for a Civil War novel, A Love Such as Heaven Intended will please both fans of history and of romance.”   Carolyn Astfalk,  Author, Stay With Me and Rightfully Ours

 

An Open Book – December #openbook

I’m joining with Carolyn Astfalk and Catholic Mom for “An Open Book.”  Here’s what I’ve been reading over the past month (and will be reading this month).

Molly

Molly McBride and the Christmas Pageant: A Story About the Virtue of Obedience

By Jean Egolf

Amazon Synopsis: The kindergarten class at Holy Trinity School is having a Christmas pageant, complete with stable, angels, barn animals, and baby Jesus. Molly McBride thinks she’s a shoo-in for the role of Mary, while her bestie, priest-wanna-be Dominic, has his heart set on the role of Joseph. But Mrs. Rose, kindergarten teacher extraordinaire, might not have quite the same “vision” for this year’s Nativity that the kids have, leading to an upset that snowballs into a lesson on obedience.

Will Molly’s feisty temperament ruin the whole play? Or will she find the strength, through the intercession of the Blessed Mother, to say, “Thy will be done?”

Christmas Pageant: A Story About the Virtue of Obedience is the fourth book in the Molly McBride series about a little girl who wants to be a nun when she grows up. Catholic kids young and old have fallen in love with the feisty, red-haired five-year-old heroine and her faithful wolf-pet-named-Francis. The tales, along with their charming illustrations, help school teachers, parents, and grandparents pass on our beautiful Faith to children around the world. The Molly McBride series not only delights readers with the funny and familiar antics of childhood, but also makes learning about virtues, Sacraments, and the Bible stories enjoyable. Because the stories feature religious sisters and priests as role models, both girls and boys become acquainted with religious vocations.

My review: I thoroughly enjoyed this beautiful Christmas story about a little girl who wants to be Mary in the Christmas pageant. What follows is a wonderful lesson in selflessness, empathy and obedience. Although it may be geared to younger children, older ones will also enjoy the story and illustrations. Kudos as well to the author for her outstanding illustrations. Highly recommend!

Donkey Bells

Donkey Bells: Advent and Christmas by Catherine Doherty

Synopsis: Catherine Doherty is well known for reviving many holy Christian traditions. In Donkey Bells: Advent and Christmas, Catherine’s three-in-one book on this most ‘expectant’ of holiday seasons, you’ll receive wonderful gifts:

Meaningful and heartwarming stories, the telling of which will surely become a family Christmas tradition. Including: The Little Christmas Angel O’Ryan, How Pride Became Humble, The Christmas Gift, Christmas in Harlem, The Bruised Reed, and others.

Customs which you can adopt into your own Christmas celebration, such as: The Advent Wreath, The ‘O’ Antiphons, Baking Christmas Foods and Decorating, and The Blessing of The Christmas Tree. Traditions surrounding important Advent and Christmas feast days are presented, including: St. Nicholas, The Immaculate Conception, Feast of the Holy Family, New Year’s Eve, Epiphany, and more.

Earthy and inspiring meditations to prepare the entire family for Christ’s coming, including:A Candle in Our Hearts, Little Things, The Gurgle of a Baby, Where Love Is God Is, Looking into the Child’s Eyes, Advent: A Modern Bethlehem, A Short Season—A Long Journey, and many more.

My review: This is my favorite Advent and Christmas book. This is another book I’ve read numerous times. I enjoy reading this on a comfy chair by a warm fire with a cup of hot chocolate or tea.  So many beautiful stories and traditions. Highly recommend!

Kathleen Morgan

The Christkindl’s Gift by Kathleen Morgan

Amazon Synopsis: When Anna Hannack’s father-in-law brings home a wounded stranger only days before Christmas, Anna’s not happy. Christian charity moves the Hannack family to help the injured man, but the young widow Anna keeps her distance. The tragedies of life have shattered her trust, and she’s determined not to let another stranger threaten her family. Could it be, though, that this rugged Scotsman is actually the gift Anna’s young children have asked of the Christ Child this Christmas?

My review: I enjoy reading this book each Christmas.  It’s a well-written and clean historical romance.  4/5 stars (there was one anachronism in the book.)

 

Insep

Inseparable: Five Perspectives on Sex, Life and Love in Defense of

Humanae Vitae by various authors

Amazon Synopsis:  With the fiftieth anniversary of Humanae Vitae in 2018, Catholic Answers Press is publishing an important new multi-contributor exposition of that prophetic encyclical – Inseparable: Five Perspectives on Sex, Life, and Love in Defense of Humanae Vitae.

Given the richness of Catholic teaching on the transmission of human life and the different ways—due to their temperaments, habits of mind, and life circumstances—that people respond to it, we asked our contributors to reflect on and defend that teaching from five perspectives: each of them compelling, all of them together forming a mosaic of truth.

Biblical foundations of conjugal love
Nature Law and human telos
Personalism and the “language of the body”
Historical lessons from contraceptive culture
The witness of lived experience

Contributors include some of the most knowledgeable and incisive writers on these subjects today:

Joseph Atkinson: associate professor of Sacred Scripture, John Paul II Institute, Washington, D.C.
Paul Gondreau: professor of theology, Providence College
Mark Latkovic: professor of moral and systematic theology, Sacred Heart Major Seminary
Allan Carlson: distinguished visiting professor of history and politics, Hillsdale College; author, Godly Seed: American Evangelicals Confront Birth Control
Shaun and Jessica McAfee: Shaun is the founder of Epic Pew and author of Reform Yourself! Together they contributed to Surprised by Life.

All share a joyful conviction in the truth of Humanae Vitae and a desire to promote and defend it.
Foreword by His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke.

My review: On my to-read list.

 

 

Coping With Loss

Road to Nowhere Josh Hrkach (1)

“Road to Nowhere” copyright by Josh Hrkach, used with permission

My new article at Catholic Mom speaks of ways to use loss to increase in virtue.

Loss might entail the death of a loved one, the loss of an unborn child, an accident that causes us to lose an ability, the discovery of a child’s handicap. It can be a difficult divorce or an adult child who’s lost his faith. It can be the loss of a beloved pet. It can be a parent with Alzheimer’s who has lost her memory; it can be the loss of a job or even the loss of innocence.

St. Faustina assures us that God “uses EVERYTHING to effect our transformation… that He wastes not one little trial to bring about good.”

I’ve experienced my share of losses over the past five decades.  These are a few guidelines I try to follow when dealing with loss.

  1. Be Prepared for the Unexpected

This point became evident to me with the unexpected death of my father when I was 18.  He was only 49 years old and died suddenly.  My family walked around in shock for weeks.  Because he had died suddenly, I had a lot of regret: If I had only told him one more time that I loved him, if I had only been more attentive the last time he was talking to me.  Life is full of enough trials and losses without focusing on regret.

  1. Trust

When my husband and I were first married, I had hoped that God would bless us with ten children.  So when we became pregnant, we were ecstatic.  Soon, joy turned to sorrow when I miscarried.  Several days later, I was rushed into emergency surgery because there had been another baby in my fallopian tube, and I was bleeding internally. We had conceived twins, but I left the hospital with neither baby in my arms.

St. Padre Pio said that when you pray, pray with an attitude that God will answer your prayer if it’s His will.  My husband and I prayed a thanksgiving to God that He would allow us to conceive another baby and have a successful pregnancy.  We were blessed to have three sons in five years.  When our third son was ten months old, we were pregnant again, this time with another ectopic pregnancy, but this time, I found myself with dangerous complications, in the back of an ambulance, hemorrhaging internally and drifting in and out of consciousness.  Instead of trusting, I panicked. I was in a great deal of pain and I was worried that my three little boys would have to grow up without a mom.

As I panicked, I prayed a Hail Mary with those last words taking on powerful meaning, now and at the hour of our death. Amen. I felt peace, serenity and God’s grace. My anxiety and worry was replaced with peace and joy.

  1. Embrace the Cross

God uses trials to make us better people. CS Lewis once said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, but shouts in our pain.” God has shouted to me many times.  In this case, after the peace, joy and trust I felt in the ambulance, I woke up in the recovery room, happy to be alive only to be greeted with a different excruciating pain and violent vomiting. Nausea medications did not work. My husband was away, and I felt so alone. “Please God, I can’t do this anymore.”  Within minutes, a good Samaritan nurse came along and sat and held my hand for a short while. Her presence was the consolation I needed.  I was then able to embrace that cross.

  1. See Beyond the Moment

When you’re caught up in the middle of a loss, it’s hard to see beyond that particular moment. Some losses seem too much to bear.  It’s important that we acknowledge the pain but also to try to see beyond that moment. You will never ‘get over’ any loss, but the pain will eventually be easier to manage.  We were eventually blessed with two more sons in our family.

  1. Forgive

Sometimes a loss will be the direct result of someone else’s actions: an accident, a murder, abuse. When Christ taught us to pray, he taught us to “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”  He didn’t qualify it.  It doesn’t matter what the person has done to us or the heartache they caused; it doesn’t matter whether they want to be forgiven. We must forgive them.  It’s not an easy thing to do. However, forgiving someone is for our benefit.  Holding onto anger and holding onto a grudge hurts you. Pray and fast for the grace to forgive.

  1. You Are Not Alone

As Catholics, we believe in the spiritual presence of The Father, Son and the Holy Spirit and our guardian angel, the saints and angels. Our Lady is also a precious maternal presence in our lives.   In terms of human presence, our parish priest, close and supportive friends, relatives, counselors and those in support groups can be helpful in listening.  Thankfully my husband is a very patient empathetic listener because grieving and dealing with loss is much easier when you don’t feel alone.

  1. Prayer life/Sacramentals

Prayer life and the sacraments are vital to our day-to-day journey as Catholics whether we are experiencing loss or not.  But a strong prayer life is even more essential when grieving or going through difficult moments in life.  Attending Daily Mass, reciting the daily rosary, consecrating ourselves to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, wearing a scapular and/or miraculous medal, using holy water and candles are all instruments of grace.

  1. One Day at a Time/Take Time to Grieve

Taking one day at a time is crucial.  One can become overwhelmed with the sheer immensity of any particular loss.  This isn’t an article on grief specifically, but allow time to grieve.

  1. Take care of your needs

St. Thomas Aquinas once said, “Sorrow can be alleviated by good sleep, a bath and a glass of wine.”   Grieving can be hard work emotionally; some days you have to just remember to breath, let alone make meals, do housework, homeschooling, etc.  If a friend or relative offers to make you a meal or take your younger kids for an afternoon, accept the offer!

Finally, it’s important to reiterate that God is and always will be trustworthy. In the beginning of this article, I shared that I had hoped to have ten children when my husband and I were married.  God in His generosity gave us more than we asked for, he gave us 12: seven babies in heaven and five sons we’ve had the privilege to raise.  When you ask for something, be assured that, if it’s in your best interests, God will provide it. The biggest consolation with the loss of our seven babies through miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy is that I will get to finally hold those babies one day in eternity. My friend’s mother passed away years ago. She had had four miscarriages. When this woman was close to death, she said, “They’re singing to me.”

My friend asked, “Who’s singing, Mom?”

“My babies.”

Having my babies sing me into eternity  is a beautiful, consoling thought.

Copyright 2019 Ellen Gable Hrkach

 

Ella’s Promise VBT

We’ve come to the end of my new book’s Virtual Book Tour and I’d like to say thank you to all the wonderful bloggers who took part!

front cover

Virtual Book Tour Stops/Links

November 3  Carolyn Astfalk My Scribbler’s Heart Blog

November 4  Steven McEvoy Book Reviews and More

November 5  Theresa Linden Catholic Books Blog

November 6  Therese Heckenkamp

November 7 Patrice MacArthur

November 8  Amanda Lauer

November 9  Sarah Reinhard

November 10  Jean Egolf

November 12 Leslea Wahl

November 13  Trisha Potter

November 14   The Yeoman Farmer, Christopher Blunt

November 15  Plot Line and Sinker

The book is available on Kindle and in Paperback.

EP Book Tour 150