Rightfully Ours by Carolyn Astfalk

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

Title: Rightfully Ours

Author: Carolyn Astfalk

Publisher: Full Quiver Publishing

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

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

Blurb: Sixteen-year-old Paul Porter’s relocation to Pennsylvania is a temporary move during his dad’s deployment. Or so he and his brother think, until devastating news lands on their doorstep. Paul’s new home with the Muellers provides solace, especially in the form of Rachel, his friend and confidante. Their abiding friendship deepens as they work side by side to uncover what could be lost treasure. Will they acquire the strength of character and virtue to take only what rightfully belongs to them or are they in way over their heads, with more than a few lost artifacts at stake?

Excerpt:

An unexpected detour left them lost in the dark. Paul had been certain they were heading the right way, but the two-lane country roads they had traveled the last half hour had few markers, and his older brother questioned whether they had missed a junction sign. Paul’s grip tightened on the clumsily-folded map as he peered out window. Maybe Sean should drag his knuckles out of the Stone Age and get a GPS.

Paul had been anxious about this move more than the others, even though it would only be temporary. The claw-like limbs of the barren trees whizzing by his window made the whole ordeal seem even more foreboding. He’d never been through North Central Pennsylvania, but in the daylight, the mountains would probably be beautiful, if a little desolate.

Its only for a few months. By spring, Dad would be home, and things would go back to normal. Normal for them anyway. Besides, maybe he’d like it here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the author:

Carolyn Astfalk resides with her husband and four children in Hershey, Pennsylvania, where it smells like either chocolate or manure, depending on wind direction. She is the author of the inspirational romances Stay With Me and Ornamental Graces and the coming-of-age story Rightfully Ours. Carolyn is a member of the Catholic Writers Guild and Pennwriters and a CatholicMom.com contributor. Formerly, she served as the communications director of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, the public affairs agency of Pennsylvania’s Catholic bishops. True to her Pittsburgh roots, she still says “pop” instead of “soda,” although her beverage of choice is tea. You can find her online at www.carolynastfalk.com.

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Anyone But Him by Theresa Linden VBT

9780997674743-main.jpgA New Adult Mystery Romance

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

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

The arrival of her first love, her husband’s younger brother, intent on helping her regain her memory, offers a glimmer of hope. Together they uncover secrets involving her coworkers and the local abortion clinic, but nothing to explain why she married this man. Who changed – him or her?

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

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

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

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

Links:

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

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

Author website: www.theresalinden.com

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LindenTheresa

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

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

Author Bio:

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

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An Open Book – April 2018

Open Book

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

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

9780997674743.main

Anyone But Him by Theresa Linden

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

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

The arrival of her first love, her husband’s younger brother, intent on helping her regain her memory, offers a glimmer of hope. Together they uncover secrets involving her coworkers and the local abortion clinic, but nothing to explain why she married this man. Who changed – him or her?

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

Eugenios

Eugenios by Julian Bauer

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

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

Paul's Prayers

Paul’s Prayers by Susan Anderson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Justine

Newearth: Justine Awakens by A.K. Frailey

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

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

A Life Such as Heaven Intended Now Available

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Dynamic Women of Faith Conference

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

Ellen at DWF Conference 2018

Don’t Be Fooled by Those Who Are “Re-interpreting” Humanae Vitae #HV50

By Christopher West

This July 25 marks 50 years since Pope Paul VI shocked the world when he issued his encyclical letter Humanae Vitae (Of Human Life) reaffirming the traditional Christian teaching against contraception. Although he was mocked and scorned globally – both from outside and, sadly, from within the Church – his words were prescient. He warned that a contracepting world becomes a world of rampant infidelity; a world where women and childbearing are degraded; a world in which governments trample on the rights and needs of the family; and a world in which human beings believe they can manipulate their bodies at will (see HV 17).

Is there any doubt that this is the world we live in now?

We will never climb out of the sexual confusion and gender chaos in which we are now immersed until we recognize that the modern disorientation of sex and the eclipse of the very meaning of gender began when we started rendering our genitals unable to generate. Based on its Greek root, the very word gender means “the manner in which one generates.” We see the same root in words like genesisgenerousgenitalsprogenygenes, and genealogy. We no longer see the gender-generation connection today because we are viewing ourselves through condom-colored glasses: erase the manner in which one generates from the sexual equation and the very meaning of gender is eventually erased.

In a 1984 interview, the future Pope Benedict XVI predicted that we will atone in our day for “the consequences of a sexuality which is no longer linked to … procreation. It logically follows from this that every form of [genital activity] is equivalent. … No longer having an objective reason to justify it, sex seeks the subjective reason in the gratification of the desire, in the most ‘satisfying’ answer for the individual.” In turn, he observed that everyone becomes “free to give to his personal libido the content considered suitable for himself. Hence, it naturally follows that all forms of sexual gratification are transformed into the ‘rights’ of the individual.” From there, he concluded that people end up demanding the right of “escaping from the ‘slavery of nature,’ demanding the right to be male or female at one’s will or pleasure” (The Ratzinger Report, pp. 85, 95).

Again, is there any doubt that this is the world we now live in?

Tragically, there are people in high places of the Church who have not been paying attention to the painful lessons of history – nor to the extensive and gloriously illuminating reflections of Saint John Paul II on the theology of the human body. As the 50th anniversary of Paul VI’s lifesaving encyclical approaches, they are raising their voices in a new wave of attacks against it. The operative language is that of “re-interpreting” Paul VI’s encyclical in order to keep it “dynamic” and “applicable” to “new realities.” But that is code for dissenting from it.

Perhaps you heard about a widely reported speech given by Father Maurizio Chiodi, a newly appointed member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, at a conference at the Gregorian University in Rome at the end of last year. Therein he argued that a proper development of Paul VI’s teaching on “responsible parenthood” can actually obligate a couple to use contraception. There are cases, he argued, that make the practice of natural family planning “impossible or impractical” and, hence, “other forms of responsibility must be found” that require “other methods of birth control.”

If we consider the teaching of Humanae Vitae only as a precept to be imposed on people’s weakness, we are, indeed, placing an “impossible” and “impractical” burden on people. As Saint John Paul II insisted, “Love and life according to the Gospel cannot be thought of first and foremost as a kind of precept, because what they demand is beyond man’s abilities. They are possible only as a result of a gift of God who heals, restores, and transforms the human heart by his grace.” Living according to the demands of the Gospel, then, is “a possibility opened to man exclusively by grace, by the gift of God, by his love” (Veritatis Splendor 23, 24).

The Church does not only lay down the demands of God’s law and then leave men and women to their own resources in attempting to carry it out. As Pope Paul VI stated very clearly in Humanae Vitae, the Church “also announces the good news of salvation, and by means of the sacraments flings wide open the channels of grace, which makes man a new creature, capable of following the design of his Creator … with love and true freedom, finding the yoke of Christ to be sweet” (HV 25).

Yes, human beings are weak and must contend with the strong pull of concupiscence (the disordering of our passions that resulted from original sin). As human experience attests, this makes following God’s law a real struggle. But it is precisely that struggle that urges the heart to cry out for God’s grace, and God’s grace is sufficient for us (see 2 Cor 12:9)! As Saint Augustine put it in a wonderful turn of phrase: “The law was given so that grace might be sought; and grace was given that the law might be fulfilled.”

“Re-interpreting” Humanae Vitae in light of human weakness may seem like the “kind” or “pastoral” thing to do, but in the end it empties the Cross of its power. Instead of saying, “By the power of Christ, come higher,” those who are re-interpreting Humanae Vitae are actually saying, “Sorry, Christ’s power is not available to you, so stay lower.” Instead of saying, “God’s grace is sufficient for you to fulfill his law,” those who are re-interpreting Humanae Vitae are saying, “In your case, we need to adjust God’s law according to your concrete possibilities.”

“But what are ‘the concrete possibilities of man’?” asks Saint John Paul II. “And of which man are we speaking? Of man dominated by lust or of man redeemed by Christ?” He continues:

This is what is at stake: the reality of Christ’s redemption. Christ has redeemed us! This means he has given us the possibility of realizing the entire truth of our being; he has set our freedom free from the domination of concupiscence. And if redeemed man still sins, this is not due to an imperfection of Christ’s redemptive act, but to man’s will not to avail himself of the grace which flows from that act. God’s command is of course proportioned to man’s capabilities; but to the capabilities of the man to whom the Holy Spirit has been given; of the man who, though he has fallen into sin, can always obtain pardon and enjoy the presence of the Holy Spirit. (Veritatis Splendor 103)

This is one of the most potent proclamations of the power of the Gospel I’ve ever heard. And thanks be to God that I heard it! Thanks be to God that Saint John Paul II was bold enough to proclaim it!

We serve no one by watering down the truth. In fact, we keep people in their chains. What’s needed is not a re-interpretation of Humanae Vitae. What’s needed, as Pope Paul VI himself said, is a “total vision of man and of his vocation” in order to understand this teaching in all of its beauty and fullness (HV 7). And this is precisely what Saint John Paul II gave us in his marvelous Theology of the Body. If you want to be equipped to address today’s sexual chaos and gender confusion with clarity, insight, and compassion, take up a study of it. You will not be disappointed.


The Cor Project exists to help men and women learn, live, and share the Theology of the Body. To learn more, watch Christopher West’s short film here.

Christopher West, is a lecturer, best-selling writer and author of multiple audio and video programs which have made him the world’s most recognized teacher of John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body.” He is founder and president of The Cor Project, a global membership and outreach organization devoted to helping men and women learn, live, and share the Theology of the Body in compelling, life-transforming ways.