BOOK REVIEW: ‘A Subtle Grace’ by Ellen Gable

Late nineteenth-century teenager Kathleen O’Donovan cannot wait to marry. She’s already 19, and dreads being an old maid! Although her parents urge patience, she rushes headlong into courtship with the first man to take a fancy to her, whilst newcomer to the town, young doctor Luke, shyly admires her from afar. Meanwhile, her brother Will feels a different calling stirring in his heart. But unknown to him, secrets lie hidden in his past. Will they steal his dream away from him?

I thoroughly enjoyed this period romance drama, often having trouble putting it down. I love the way we get to know all the main characters so thoroughly, and the gentle, slow-building romance between Kathleen and her true love. The book also makes it clear that any form of sexual assault can have devastating consequences for a woman’s confidence.

One character’s plotline has a very unexpected twist/revelation near the end, which makes the—in other ways predictable (though nonetheless satisfying)—showdown all the more poignant and gripping.

 

Get it HERE.

BOOK REVIEW: ‘Guarding Aaron’ – T.M. Gaouette

I was lucky enough to read an advance copy of this book and thrilled that the series continues in such a gripping way. It seemed like this book was all about change–or the threat of change. Gabriel and Tanner are desperate to find out exactly what change God wants for them, Faith wants one change in her life and dreads another, whilst Aaron really NEEDS a change.

The characters react to the actual and threatened changes in different ways, some very active, like Aaron, some more passive, some in really unhelpful ways. As in her previous books, Gaouette presents a lot of very realistic characters, warts and mistakes and all. But Gaouette also ramps up the action in this book in a big way.

There are some good twists in this story, one of them left me gaping like a fish, I so did not see it coming! If you haven’t read the first two books you should probably start with those, but don’t miss this one. Gripping, faith-filled fiction.

 

Get it HERE.

[I received a preview copy of this book from the author, with whom I am acquainted through several author groups. Opinions are my own.]

THE SIEGE OF REGINALD HILL is out TODAY!

 

THE SIEGE OF REGINALD HILL is out TODAY…

…And it’s a no. 1 new release on Amazon in Teen & Young Adult Christian Science Fiction!

 

I’m not sure if any of my books have achieved a little orange banner before, but this is the first time I’ve actually noticed, so forgive me for sharing the screenshot like a proud parent!

 

In this blog post:

  1. Info about the new book!

  2. Info about the Launch Blog Tour!

  3. Info about how to win a $10 Amazon Gift Card!

 

1. The Book!

An odd surge filled my heart as I looked at him, sitting there in that chair: so old; so evil; so broken; so… alone. A warmth. A caring. A… love. I loved him. Just another poor sinner who need my care…

SAFETY IS NOT THE ABSENCE OF DANGER, BUT THE PRESENCE OF GOD.

Fr Kyle Verrall is living a quiet life as a parish priest in Africa when he’s snatched from his church one night by armed assailants. He’s in big trouble—his sister’s worst enemy is hell-bent on taking revenge on the famous Margaret Verrall by killing her brother, just as slowly and horribly as he can.

What could possibly save him? The humble young priest is defenceless—or so Reginald Hill believes.

But Kyle has a powerful weapon Hill knows nothing about. And he’s not afraid to use it.

Is Reginald Hill really the hunter?

Or is he the hunted?

 

Background

BROTHERS came out of nowhere about this time last year, and once it was published someone emailed me and wanted to know when another book about Kyle would come out. I emailed her back very confidently saying that BROTHERS was a one-off and I’d no plans to write any more about him.

The Holy Spirit clearly heard me! The following morning I was unable to get on with anything because the plot of THE SIEGE OF REGINALD HILL was so busy unwinding in my head! Phew, it was a tense morning!

I immediately knew I had to write the story and set to work, in-between publishing a couple of fun books I’d written some years earlier (ELFLING and MANDY LAMB AND THE FULL MOON). I thought I was writing a long novella, but when I’d finished it in July I discovered that it was in fact a short novel!

I hope you love it as much as I do. It has a special place in my heart!

 

Here are some buy links:

Amazon UK edition
Amazon US edition

Please note: This book is more suitable for older teens because of intense scenes. Anyone who was okay with I AM MARGARET should be okay with THE SIEGE OF REGINALD HILL, but as always, parents, if in doubt, please read it yourself first!

What do the reviewers think?

The Siege of Reginald Hill is a powerful story of sacrificial love—the kind very few are ever called to. Kyle is faced with unbearable pain and suffering, but he handles it in an amazing, almost unfathomable way. … If you’ve enjoyed the I Am Margaret series, you will love this story.
THERESA LINDEN, author of award-winning Battle for His Soul

There are a few stories that I’ll never forget even though it’s been years since I read them. Henry James’ The Beast in the Jungle and C. S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce, and now Corinna Turner’s The Siege of Reginald Hill. An extremely powerful example of what it really means to love our enemies, this novel provokes a whirlwind of emotions.
T. M. GAOUETTE, author of the Faith and Kung Fu series

What an eloquent priestly figure is given us in The Siege of Reginald Hill! No time is wasted by the young priest on his awesome journey to reach the lost sheep. Fr Kyle’s example reminds the reader that our sufferings lead to victory when united with the sacrifice of Christ.
FR. ARMAND DE MALLERAY, FSSP, author of Ego Eimi – It is I: Falling in Eucharistic Love

The Siege of Reginald Hill is another suspenseful and moving work by Corinna Turner. Fans of I Am Margaret will love the continuation of the story!
REGINA DOMAN, author of The Angel in the Waters and the award-winning Fairytale Novels series.

2. The Launch Blog Tour!

Check out all 10 fantastic stops over the next 12 days!

Dec 1 – Stop 1 – Corinna Turner – Author of the I Am Margaret series including new release The Siege of Reginald Hillwww.IAmMargaret.com

Dec 2 – SUNDAY – Relax and crack open your copy of THE SIEGE OF REGINALD HILL when you get back from church!

Dec 3 – Stop 2 – Steven R. McEvoy – Blogger and Amazon Top 1000 Reviewer Steven R. McEvoy on “Book Reviews & More” – www.bookreviewsandmore.ca

Dec 4 – Stop 3 – Erin McCole Cupp – Blogger, Contributor to Catholic Mom and Author (Jane E. Friendless Orphan series, etc.) – http://catholicmom.com/

Dec 5 – Stop 4 – Regina Doman – Award-winning Catholic teen fiction Author (The Fairy Tale novels, The Angel in the Waters, etc.) – http://reginadoman.blogspot.com/

Dec 6 – Stop 5 – Theresa Linden – Award-winning Catholic teen fiction Author (Liberty series, West Brothers series, etc.) – https://catholicbooksblog.wordpress.com/

Dec 7 – Stop 6 – Sarah de Nordwall – The Catholic Bard! – http://sarahdenordwall.blogspot.com/

Dec 8 – Stop 7 – T.M. Gaouette – Writer, Blogger, and Author of Catholic Fiction (Faith and Kung Fu series) – https://tmgaouette.com/

Dec 9 – SUNDAY – Relax and crack open your copy of THE SIEGE OF REGINALD HILL when you get back from church!

Dec 10 – Stop 8 – Carolyn Astfalk – Author of coming-of-age romance Rightfully Ours, etc. – www.carolynastfalk.com/

Dec 11 – Stop 9 – Leslea Wahl – Award-winning Catholic teen fiction Author (The Perfect Blindside, An Unexpected Role, etc.) – http://lesleawahl.com/

Dec 12 – Stop 10 – Elizabeth Amy Hajek – Blogger and Author of The Mermaid and the Unicornhttps://elenatintil.blogspot.com

 

3. That $10 Amazon Gift Card!

 

I need your help from December 1st-12th!

Yes, you can help!

😀

Will you help me spread the word?
Please tell your family, friends, youth group, and church community about the new book.

As a thank you, I’m offering the chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card.

It’s easy to enter! Just share my promotional images on Facebook and Twitter—or email them to your friends, whatever you like! Send me an email or Facebook message to tell me what and how many times you shared about the book. You’ll get one entry for every share!

The winner will be drawn on the last day of the Blog Tour!
Thanks so much for your help!

 

I hope you enjoy THE SIEGE OF REGINALD HILL.

 

Don’t miss Stop 2 on the Launch Tour on Dec 3Steven R. McEvoy – Blogger and Amazon Top 1000 Reviewer Steven R. McEvoy on “Book Reviews & More” – www.bookreviewsandmore.ca

OUTCAST Blog Tour – Stop 4!

So I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for the release of Theresa Linden’s new novel OUTCAST!

 

He’s searching for the truth but is he ready to proclaim it? 

For shy Roland West, speech class is synonymous with humiliation. The last thing he wants is more attention from the gossips and troublemakers of River Run High School. But when an outcast’s house is viciously vandalized, Roland needs to find the perpetrators—before they strike again. Yet nothing is as straightforward as it seems. Suspected by the police and ridiculed for his beliefs, Roland draws closer to the sinister truth. When the perpetrators threaten a good friend, can Roland overcome his fear of speaking out and expose them?

 

I’m not going to do a full review here because I haven’t read the final published novel yet. However, I was honoured to read an earlier draft and I will say that considering how good that was, with the final improvements having been made, it must now be a VERY powerful, gripping read that challenges us to think about when we should stay silent–and when we cannot, however much we may want to. The novel takes an honest look at prejudice, hate, political correctness, and bigotry, especially when it comes to Same-Sex attraction, but handles the topic sensitively.

I was SO delighted when Theresa Linden told me that she was working on this novel, because there is such a need for it in the sphere of teen fiction.

And now it’s OUT and available to BUY! (And in time for Christmas!)

Get it HERE.

 

[Theresa Linden and I are both members of Catholic Teen Books. Opinions my own!]

BOOK REVIEW: ‘Saving Faith’ – T.M. Gaouette

This was just as gripping as ‘Freeing Tanner Rose’—but more painful to read! Unlike in book 1, Faith, the main female character of this book, is a cradle Catholic, previously strong in her faith, who is suffering extreme temptations and going seriously astray. In some ways this created even more suspense than when Tanner Rose, an unchurched Hollywood starlet, was encountering sincere Christians for the first time in book 1.

I spent so much of this book shouting at Faith in my head, but her decisions were realistic, even when infuriating and tragic. Possibly my favourite character was actually Christian, and for me his was the most satisfying plot arc. But I’ll say no more for fear of spoilers!

A great read. Give it a try!

 

[I received a review copy of this book from the author, with whom I am acquainted through several author groups. Opinions are my own.]

BOOK REVIEW: ’10 Steps to Girlfriend Status’ – Cynthia T. Toney

What a great read. There’s so much to like in this book. I think my favourite thing was the deaf character, Sam, who speaks American Sign Language—it’s always so great to see convincingly portrayed characters with disabilities as significant players in a book. And he’s so lovely!

A close second was Wendy’s relationship with her elderly neighbour, Mrs V., who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. The elderly are so often invisible in our society—and in our entertainment—so this significant relationship and important plot strand were very welcome. It also played out in a convincing and moving way.

I also loved the mystery involving an interracial romance at a time when that was not widely accepted. However, I both liked, and disliked, the fact that it all ended up tying up so very neatly in the modern day. Very contradictory of me, I know, but I can’t quite decide how I feel about that!

Another thing I couldn’t quite decide how I felt about was the presentation of the ‘blended’ family. With divorce and remarriage so prevalent nowadays, this is a reality for many teens, and it’s great for them to see an honest treatment of it, not minimising the challenges, but showing that it can be made to work well. But I’m always, simultaneously, uneasy about the consequences of taking the normalising of something of this nature too far. No one wants teens in this situation to feel bad, to struggle, let alone to be bullied. But if divorce and remarriage are normalised in their minds, they are more likely to repeat the cycle themselves. This dilemma is not specific to this book, of course, and I have chewed on it for a long time and have no answer. The portrayal of a blended family is certainly done very well in this book and should help teens dealing with such situations.

This next bit of this review is only relevant to Catholics. I was under the impression that this was a ‘Catholic’ book about a Catholic protagonist and family. Quite honestly, that’s not made clear at all—though I should note that I have not read book 1, so maybe it is made crystal clear there. To check that I hadn’t missed anything in this book (I was reading fast, very eager to find out what was going to happen) I actually did a search for specifically Catholic words and the only one I found was ‘Mass’, which appears once. So if you’re looking for a specifically Catholic book, this isn’t the one for you. It’s a vaguely, gently Christian book and a very nice read, but I’d hesitate to label it as specifically ‘Catholic’.

This raises a slight problem for Catholic readers, because consistent with the lack of explicit Catholicism, the author also omits even one single sentence, one tiny nod, to the idea that the mother of the protagonist might have acquired an annulment before remarrying. Since the protagonist’s father is alive, this gives an extremely bad impression. I read somewhere that the author felt that readers would ‘assume’ the annulment. But with such a deafening silence on the subject and with the family’s Catholicism not made explicit, I would have assumed the exact opposite and I imagine many teens growing up in our current culture will as well. So if you are Catholic, you will NEED to have a conversation with your teens about annulments after they read this book and make sure they did understand that ‘of course Wendy’s mother wouldn’t have remarried without one’.

Catholic bit over!

The only other thing that made me slightly uncomfortable in this book was that the teen protagonist kisses a boy on her first date. Not her first date with that particular boy, but her very first date, EVER. And that’s presented as normal and healthy. There seems to be a bit of a convention in teen fiction that a kiss doesn’t ‘count’ as sexual activity, but as something utterly sweet and innocent, and this book is far from alone in following this convention. However, this doesn’t really tally with reality and I do question how easily teens getting physical right from the get-go are going to manage to wait for marriage.

Overall, though, I really enjoyed the book, and I think it could be a great jumping off point for conversations about a really wide range of issues and topics. I’m certainly looking forward to reading the rest of the series, and especially to seeing more of Sam! I think he’s definitely my favourite character.

 

[I am acquainted with the author through author groups but purchased my own copy of this book to read and review. Opinions my own.]

BOOK REVIEW: ‘An Unexpected Role’ by Leslea Wahl

This was a very easy, enjoyable read, a summer romance crossed with a crime mystery with some satisfying character growth thrown in.

Rather amusingly, I inferred completely the wrong thing from the title and synopsis. Not being a theatre nerd, the word ‘role’ suggested to me that Josie would have to take on some ‘role’, such as caring for someone, that she wouldn’t want to do. So I spent a long time waiting (in suspense!) for her aunt or someone else on the island to get a terrible diagnosis, forcing her to grow up and start caring for them. Ha ha! I think it’s only a mild spoiler to let on that this doesn’t happen. ‘Role’ is used in the theatre sense! (Just in case anyone else was under the same misconception!)

Josie does grow up during the book (thankfully 😉 and therefore all the more satisfyingly) but the catalyst for this is other things. There’s quite a lot of excitement—I found the motorbike scene particularly heart-in-the-mouth and shocking.

Josie’s attraction to (and description of) Niko was so overwhelmingly physical and very much based on the stereotype that ‘Latin men are hot’ that it was a bit uncomfortable. BUT, since this reflects her state of maturity at the time, it isn’t unrealistic. It’s just good—if uncomfortable—characterisation.

Some parents might want to be aware that Josie wears a bikini at times and this is viewed as 100% normal. However, although Josie, in a convincing teen girl manner, is very fixated on appearances, the book is very clean (there are 2 kisses, one initiated by a boy, one by Josie).

However, I do feel that parents probably need to have a conversation with their teens after the book is read about when the use of torture is justified (or rather, that it isn’t, ever!). This is because (mild SPOILER) the teen heroine manages to obtain a confession from the baddie at the end through the use of impromptu, but pre-meditated and sustained, torture, albeit of an unusual nature.

It is never named as ‘torture’, but it is—in fact, it is potentially life threatening—and the fact that there is no discussion about what happened clearly implies that because the baddie had done evil things and would probably otherwise have got away with it, the torture was therefore justified. Whilst it would be hard not to read the scene and sympathise with Josie’s desperate desire to save the day, save her friends and the innocents affected, and set things right, I couldn’t help feeling she had crossed an ethical line here. The ‘end justifies the means’ message made me very uncomfortable and I really wished the author could have written the ending differently.

Overall, though, a very enjoyable read, providing a good lead into discussion of a challenging—but important—moral topic.

 

[I am acquainted with the author through author groups but purchased my own copy of this book to read and review. Opinions my own.]

‘Where You Lead’ Blog Tour!

I hope to post a review of this fun new release soon, but for now – it’s out, and here is the blurb!

Sixteen-year-old Eve Donahue’s lonely existence changes in an instant when visions of a mysterious stranger haunt her. Certain God is calling her for a mission, she bravely says yes and begins her quest to meet this young man.

Thousands of miles away, Nick Hammond has been dealing with his own unusual experience, an unwavering certainness to convince his father to run for political office.

When these two unlikely teens finally meet, their belief that God has called them to work together sets them on a journey of faith to untangle a web of deception involving international trade agreements, lost confederate gold, and a blossoming romance. As they follow century old clues, they realize God can call us all in big and small ways. We just need to listen and say “Yes Lord, I will go where You lead.”

Read a sample or buy the book HERE.

 

Author Biography
Welcome! I’m Leslea Wahl, author of faith-filled teen mysteries. For as long as I can remember I have been a creator of stories with ideas swirling through my head. I am thrilled now to be able to share some of them with others. For many years I have been driven by a belief that our purpose in life is to use our gifts to glorify God and lead others to Him. I am blessed to have found a way to intertwine my two passions by creating adventurous stories with positive Christian messages for today’s youth. Not only do I hope to entertain with my writing, but also to inspire others to find their gifts as well.

 

Leslea Wahl is a fellow member of Catholic Teen Books.

BOOK REVIEW: ‘Anyone But Him’ by Theresa Linden

Anyone But HimThe title says it all! Caitlyn Summer has been saving herself for marriage, all through her teens. Then one morning she wakes up in bed with the school’s bad boy, Jarret West. If that’s not awful enough, he claims it’s three whole years later than she thinks it is. She’s not a teenager any more.

Oh, and they’ve been married for a year…

Okay, amnesia plots have been done a lot, but they’re popular for a very good reason! If you’re writing a suspense thriller romance, they really work! I was lucky enough to read this book prior to release, and I’ve just thoroughly enjoyed reading the final published version. It’s incredibly gripping, moving, and challenging.

The faith element gives this a fascinating and delightful dimension entirely missing from most amnesia stories. It’s also where the ‘challenging’ comes in. Caitlyn believes in the sanctity—and permanence—of marriage. But she never imagined a situation like this! Can she hold to her ideals, even now?

Combining suspense thriller and romance with a strong pro-life subplot, this is one not to miss!

 

Get it HERE.

 

[The author is a fellow member of Catholic Teen Books, but my opinions are my own!]

BOOK REVIEW: ‘Hush Hush’ by Michelle Quigley

51iHrSVY9sLBlurb: ‘Why do I have to stand here and pretend that everything is alright, when the truth is I want to curl myself up into a ball and die somewhere?’


Molly is a normal sixteen-year-old working as a factory girl in Derry, Northern Ireland, until one night her world is turned upside down. After experiencing a brutal attack, she is left mentally and physically broken, slowly withdrawing from her family and community, suffering in silence. She tries in vain to keep her increasing despair to herself, but life has more surprises and heartache in store. As her family battle to conceal a dreadful secret and expected allies shun her, Hitler steps up his invasion of Europe. With the outbreak of war an even greater strain is placed upon her family when her brother enlists in the army. Will she ever manage to make amends with him again? And with gossip rife among the community, will her secret remain hidden forever?

Hush Hush will draw you into Molly’s struggles and desires and leave you hoping that maybe, just maybe, there is someone out there who can help turn her life around.

 

This was a gripping read that I should have put down more often than I did. Molly is a sympathetic heroine and the characters and scenarios were, for the most part, very credibly drawn. There was also a really lovely love interest (I want one!), and for me the romance was a very satisfying part of the plot.

To begin with I found some of the writing a little awkward, but I suspect it was mostly due to the differences in Northern Irish dialect and phrasing since I got used to it and stopped noticing it quite quickly.  The Northern Irish and Irish settings were vividly drawn and made me want to go and explore them! The historical angle was also fascinating, especially the glimpse at the culture of the period.

In many ways this book could be described as a fable about lying, and the consequences of lying. All the way through runs this huge ‘if only’. If only she had told the truth… But this pent up frustration makes the climax of the novel all the more poignant.

The only thing that really annoyed me was what some reviewers have called the plot ‘twist’ at the end. Quigley carefully leaves the identity of the attacker up in the air for the majority of the book, making it a mystery. Is it one of two possible candidates – or someone else entirely? It’s an effective technique, only I suspected that while we were supposed to assume it was one suspect, it might turn out to be someone else.

My issue was that if it was this other person, some of the scenes in the novel were implausible, because it was not credible to me that the first person narrator could think about certain things without thinking related thoughts that would give away the identity of the rapist. Essentially, by including such scenes, Quigley should have been ‘proving’ that a particular person wasn’t the rapist – but I had a feeling this might prove not to be the case and I was irritated when my suspicions proved correct.

As a Catholic I was also a little frustrated by the fact that at one point, in a time of need, Molly decides to pray the rosary every day. When she plunges further into despair and darkness, we are never told whether or not she is doing it. In fact, the whole subject is never mentioned again. I would have liked to known more.

However, these two small niggles don’t change the fact that overall HUSH HUSH was a gripping, satisfying read, with a strong, life-affirming message, and I would recommend it, especially to Catholics and all those committed to the cause of life.

Get it HERE.

Please note, the rape is fairly discreetly described, but I would strongly caution anyone who has suffered a sexual assault.

I received a free copy of this book in return for an honest review.