Photos copyright James Hrkach 2017
Photos copyright James Hrkach 2017
From Inside Ottawa Valley and Arnprior Chronicle-Guide
“No man has tasted the full flavour of life until he has known poverty, love and war.” O. Henry’s quote could well be the theme of local author, Ellen Gable Hrkach’s, eighth book, Julia’s Gifts, a First World War romance.
One hundred years ago, the world was at war. It was supposed to be the “war to end all wars.” However, amid the carnage of the First World War, soldiers, nurses and other volunteers discovered love. Hrkach, who writes under her maiden name (Gable), says that creating characters and stories can be “rewarding, but it’s also challenging work, especially if it entails historical research.”
Julia’s Gifts is the first of three books planned for a series entitled Great War Great Love. The setting for this novel is 1917-18, France. The protagonist is Julia Murphy who, as a young girl in Philadelphia, began buying Christmas gifts for her future spouse, a man whose name she doesn’t yet know, a man she calls her beloved. Soon after the United States enters the Great War, Julia impulsively volunteers as a medical-aid worker, with no experience or training. During the course of the novel, the reader follows Julia from Philadelphia to war-torn France as she transitions from unworldly young woman to compassionate volunteer.
Originally from the Philadelphia area, Hrkach is now a dual citizen, having received her Canadian citizenship in 2014.
The author began writing Christian fiction as a hobby in 2002 when her five sons were small boys. The part-time hobby eventually turned into a full-time career of writing, editing, book coaching and publishing.
Reviews and Awards
Reviews for Julia’s Gifts have been overwhelmingly positive. In her review, award-winning author Therese Heckenkamp, says that this novel is a, “touching story of faith and devotion that is sure to leave a lasting impression.” Jean Heimann, author of Fatima: The Apparition that Changed the World, gave Julia’s Gifts high praise: “Stunning love story amid World War 1 … outstanding and unforgettable book!”
“This book is filled with fascinating historical detail and a reminder that love never fails and that miracles — great and small — happen all around us,” says Carolyn Astfalk, award-winning author.
In 2015, Hrkach’s fifth book, A Subtle Grace, was a finalist in the IAN Book Awards in both the romance and historical categories. In 2010, Hrkach’s second book, In Name Only, won the IPPY Gold Medal in Religious Fiction. All of her books are available on Amazon on Kindle and in paperback. Since 2009, the author’s books have been collectively downloaded over 600,000 times on Kindle.
Upcoming Book Signings
The author will be signing and selling books at the following events during the next six weeks:
Friday, Nov. 10: The Ninth Annual Ladies’ Shopping Night, St. John Chrysostom Parish Hall, Arnprior, Ontario, from 4 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 18: CWL Bake Sale and Bazaar, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish Hall, Braeside, Ont. from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 17: Christmas Shopping Adventure,, Renfrew, Ontario from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 25: One of a Kind Christmas Craft, Bake and Business Sale, Nick Smith Centre, Arnprior, Ont. from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Saturday, December 2: Gifts of Light, Christmas Gifts and Bake Sale, Sponsored by L’Arche Arnprior, Kirkman House Bed and Breakfast, Arnprior, Ont. from 10 a.m. to two p.m.
Julia’s Gifts costs $15 (Canadian) for the print edition and $4.99 for the Kindle edition. It’s available online via Amazon and through the publisher’s website at http://www.fullquiverpublishing.com. More information can be found at the author’s website: http://www.ellengable.com
Julia’s Gifts is now available for pre-order on Kindle!
It will be released on November 1, 2017.
The paperback will be available next week.
Julia’s Gifts Virtual Book Tour will take place November 1 – 22, 2017. Links will be posted later this week.
I’m joining with Carolyn Astfalk and Catholic Mom for An Open Book. Here’s what I’ve been reading:
God or Nothing: Robert Cardinal Sarah
Synopsis: In this fascinating autobiographical interview, one of the most prominent and outspoken Catholic Cardinals gives witness to his Christian faith and comments on many current controversial issues. The mission of the Church, the joy of the gospel, the heresy of activism , and the definition of marriage are among the topics he discusses with wisdom and eloquence.
Robert Cardinal Sarah grew up in Guinea, West Africa. Inspired by the missionary priests who made great sacrifices to bring the Faith to their remote village, his parents became Catholics. Robert discerned a call to the priesthood and entered the seminary at a young age, but due to the oppression of the Church by the government of Guinea, he continued his education outside of his homeland. He studied in France and nearby Senegal. Later he obtained a licentiate in theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, followed by a licentiate in Sacred Scripture at the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum of Jerusalem.
At the age of thirty-four he became the youngest Bishop in the Catholic Church when John Paul II appointed him the Archbishop of Conakry, Guinea, in 1979. His predecessor had been imprisoned by the Communist government for several years, and when Archbishop Sarah was targeted for assassination John Paul II called him to Rome to be Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. In 2010 Pope Benedict XVI named him Cardinal and appointed him Prefect of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum. Pope Francis made him Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments in 2014.
“I have read God or Nothing with great spiritual profit, joy, and gratitude. . . .[Its] courageous answers to the problems of gender theory clear up in a nebulous world a fundamental anthropological question.” Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
My review: I’m enjoying this book tremendously. Cardinal Sarah expresses the faith with a firm but gentle tone. Fascinating life story, but also an ideal book that explains our faith. Highly recommend (and thanks to Ann for the gift copy!!)
Synopsis: (Fiction) David Baker’s life is plagued with headaches. Relationship troubles, an aging mother, and chronic migraines are turning his existence into a nightmare. His misery is further compounded by his antagonistic, four-year-old neighbor who constantly demands his attention. When David accidentally stumbles upon a secret operation that promises to rid him of all of his problems, he wonders if he may have found a means of escape, but will the mistakes of his past continue to haunt his future…with terrifying results? This slightly futuristic, dystopian novel uses the far-fetched, surreal possibilities of tomorrow, to expose the hidden horrors of modern-day reality.
My review: Forthcoming
Prayers, Promises and Devotions for the Holy Souls in Purgatory by Susan Tassone
Synopsis: The holy souls are eager for the prayers of the faithful, which can gain indulgences for them. Their intercession is powerful. Pray unceasingly. We must empty purgatory!” St. Pio of Pietrelcina Tireless advocate for the holy souls in purgatory, Susan Tassone, invites you to join her in the call to action from St. Pio to empty purgatory. Become a prayer warrior on behalf of the suffering souls and bring comfort to them and to yourself along the way.
Tassone provides an unprecedented treasure trove of spiritual tools including devotions, meditations, and wisdom from the holy souls and patron saints of souls in purgatory that you can use to take an active role in this vital and rewarding vocation. Sharing her deep understanding and personal connection with the centuries-old tradition of praying with supernatural charity for the holy souls, Tassone will inspire you with her passion and educate you with her meticulous research. In addition, she provides an avenue for the attainment of spiritual gifts for acts done for the souls that cry out for relief.
My review: Forthcoming
Catholicism: A Journey to the Heart of the Faith by Robert Barron
Synopsis: “What I propose to do in this book is to take you on a guided exploration of the Catholic world, but not in the manner of a docent, for I am not interested in showing you the artifacts of Catholicism as though they were dusty objets d’art in a museum of culture. I want to function rather as a mystagogue, conducting you ever deeper into the mystery of the incarnation in the hopes that you might be transformed by its power.” –Father Robert Barron
What is Catholicism? A 2,000-year-old living tradition? A worldview? A way of life? A relationship? A mystery? In Catholicism Father Robert Barron examines all these questions and more, seeking to capture the body, heart and mind of the Catholic faith.
Starting from the essential foundation of Jesus Christ’s incarnation, life, and teaching, Father Barron moves through the defining elements of Catholicism – from sacraments, worship, and prayer, to Mary, the Apostles, and Saints, to grace, salvation, heaven, and hell – using his distinct and dynamic grasp of art, literature, architecture, personal stories, Scripture, theology, philosophy, and history to present the Church to the world.
Paired with his documentary film series of the same title, Catholicism is an intimate journey, capturing “The Catholic Thing” in all its depth and beauty. Eclectic, unique, and inspiring, Father Barron brings the faith to life for a new generation, in a style that is both faithful to timeless truths, while simultaneously speaking in the language of contemporary life.
My review: I read this while down in New Jersey visiting my family. I became sick halfway through the visit and couldn’t do much but read. She had a copy of this on her side table and I became engrossed. Excellent read and highly recommend!
Vanished Halls and Cathedrals of France by George Warton Edwards (1917)
Synopsis: (From Amazon) Surviving the ancient wars and revolutions in this, “the Cockpit of Europe,” the great examples of architecture of the early days of France remained for our delight. The corroding fingers of time, it is true, were much more merciful to them, but certainly the destroyers of old never ventured to commit the crimes upon them now charged against the legions of the present invader. These fair towns of Picardy and Champagne are sacked, pillaged and burned even as were the beautiful Flemish towns of Ypres, Malines, Termonde, Dixmude, and Dinant on the Meuse….
Never again shall we enjoy them: the chalices are broken and the perfume forever vanished….The catastrophe is so unbelievable that one cannot realize it. The Seven Churches of Soissons, Senlis, Noyon, Laon, Meaux, Rheims, St. Remi; these such as man probably never again can match, are either razed to the foundations, or so shattered that it will be impossible to restore them.
It is said that the Imperial Government has promised to rebuild these Gothic masterpieces….One cannot trust one’s self to comment upon this announcement. Imagine these sacred ruins…. Rheims!… Rheims can never be restored to what it was before the bombardment. Let it rest thus…. A sacred ruin—the scarred, pierced heart of France! Likewise “these fair sweet towns” of the middle ages; these wonderful little streets and byways, filled with the gray old timbered houses, “old in Shakespeare’s day.” Up to the outbreak of the war there were many of these throughout France, in spite of the wave of modernity which resulted in so much so called town improvement.
My review: I downloaded this on Kindle for 1.59 Canadian and what a treasure. I needed to research cathedrals of France for my series in progress (Great War Great Love). Excellent information and photos.
Julia’s Gifts (Great War Great Love #1)
Coming soon! I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my upcoming novel, Julia’s Gifts. I’ve been spending the last two weeks implementing suggested edits from my developmental editor. It’s now in the hands of the copy-editor and will be available as an ARC within a few weeks.
Synopsis: As a young girl, Julia began buying gifts for her future spouse, a man whose likeness and personality she has conjured up in her mind, a man she calls her “beloved.”
Soon after the United States enters the Great War in 1917, Julia impulsively volunteers as a medical aid worker, with no experience or training. Will the realities of war dishearten her from pursuing her beloved? Will Julia’s naïve ‘gift scheme’ distract her from recognizing her true “Great Love?”
From Philadelphia to war-torn France, follow Julia as she transitions from unworldly young woman to compassionate volunteer.