THREE LAST THINGS Out Now!

– THREE LAST THINGS –

or

The Hounding of Carl Jarrold, Soulless Assassin

 

OUT NOW!

“Love doesn’t exist. And Fr. Jacob is right about one thing. Without it, life is utterly meaningless.”

NO LOVE. NO NOTHING.

Carl Jarrold, a convicted assassin, believes that all human relationships turn on what one human being wants from another: that there is no such thing as love and thus no meaning to life. Prison chaplain Fr. Jacob, the closest thing he has to a friend, has struggled for three long years to convince Carl how wrong he is—to no avail. But the day of execution has finally arrived, and nothing goes quite as Carl expects. Soon it’s shaping up to be the strangest day he has ever had. But will it prove the worst day of his life…or the best?

This tense, “psychologically-compelling,” spiritual thriller is a standalone novella from the Carnegie Medal Nominated author of the award-winning I AM MARGARET series. Described as “beautiful,” “fantastically good,” and “one of the most moving stories I have ever read,” this is a race against time for the highest possible stakes.

Buy the book today to join Carl’s attempt to beat the clock.

Includes a free sample of the novella Brothers

This book has received the SOA from the Catholic Writers Guild.

 

Click HERE to buy from Amazon (Kindle & Paperback)
Click HERE for a choice of other formats & stores (ePub, Barnes & Noble, etc.)

 

Don’t miss this article about ‘Three Last Things’ in The Catholic Herald, from the pen of journalist Victoria Seed.

“The question Three Last Things sets before us is not if the death penalty is just, but what it costs in terms of our souls. If Carl dies unrepentant he will be damned. There is no sentimental universalism in this story: Fr Jacob is frightened for Carl because he knows Hell is real. The challenge of this story is to share Fr Jacob’s horror at the thought of any soul, even that of a murderer, going to Hell.

Sorry about the paywall. I think if you sign up for the free account at the moment you’ll be offered a half-price subscription which is worth it in my opinion. 

 

Beautiful! Corinna Turner is one dang good writer!

REGINA DOMAN, author of The Angel in the Waters and the award-winning Fairytale Novels series.

 

Fantastically good! It made me cry real tears, circumventing all my defenses. I have never read a more psychologically-compelling account of conversion anywhere. It makes very complex and sophisticated truths about grace, sin, freedom, mercy, justice, atonement, redemption, repentance, and salvation crystal clear and compelling, without being cloying or “nice,” or contrived.

DR. VICTORIA SEED, Theologian and Speaker

 

WOW! I was soooo on the edge of my seat! Tense, and suspenseful, and touching, it had me alternating between laughing out loud and cringing and cheering and wanting to cry. I totally loved it!

SUSAN PEEK, author of the God’s Forgotten Friends series

 

WOW, fantastic! Once I started reading, I couldn’t stop.

ANDREA JO RODGERS, author of At Heaven’s Edge and On Heaven’s Doorstep

 

One of the most moving stories I’ve ever read.

PENNY CAIRD

LOCKDOWN SALE!

I am holding a massive Lockdown sale on my Christian YA fiction!

This is to help those affected by the Covid Pandemic, esp. those now homeschooling and those under financial pressure.

‘The Underappreciated Virtues of Rusty Old Bicycles’ is FREE.

I AM MARGARET, BROTHERS, AND SOMEDAY are all $0.99 for the ebook or $8, $5 and $8 for the Amazon paperbacks.

All other paperbacks are at least $1 off.

UK prices are roughly equivalent to the US ones advertised here.

Links:

I AM MARGARET series
1. I Am Margaret: https://amzn.to/2qWNfdc
2. The Three Most Wanted: https://amzn.to/2KcpuGM
3. Liberation: https://amzn.to/2HrqnNR
4. Bane’s Eye: https://amzn.to/2qX8zix
5. Margo’s Diary: https://amzn.to/2vJi5vq
6. The Siege of Reginald Hill: https://amzn.to/2Bi7Rmg
Brothers (Prequel): https://amzn.to/2vGlkni
The Underappreciated Virtues of Rusty Old Bicycles (Short Story): https://amzn.to/3aetZ0t

UnSPARKed series

1.DRIVE!: https://amzn.to/2Hoz9MN

2. A Truly Raptor-ous Welcome: https://amzn.to/2FIMOvl

3. PANIC!: https://amzn.to/2zFnWEv

BREACH! (Prequel): https://amzn.to/2RLOw3J

Standalones:

Elfling: https://amzn.to/2qY5tuR
Someday: https://amzn.to/2FeEIYb
Mandy Lamb and the Full Moon: https://amzn.to/2stn92K
SECRETS: Visible & Invisible (Anthology): https://amzn.to/2N2enkg
GIFTS US: Visible & Invisible (Anthology): https://amzn.to/2nLXa7L

An Interview with Bonnie Way

Today I’m interviewing Canadian author Bonnie Way. Bonnie is a stay-at-home mom with five children aged 12 to 2. She’s a homeschool graduate who is now homeschooling her oldest four children. After growing up Lutheran, Bonnie converted to the Catholic Church in university and now loves learning more about the saints and the teachings of the Church. She and her husband have been married for 13 years and currently make their home in Vancouver, BC. When Bonnie is not writing, she can be found reading a book, biking or hiking with her family, or baking something in the kitchen.

 

As well as books, she also writes a blog called The Koala Mom which aims to cultivate family togetherness for modern moms. She shares stories of daily motherhood, homeschooling, family travel, and family entertainment to encourage moms to keep their kids as close as koalas. She has a B.A. in English (2006) and a B.A. in Writing (2014) as well as over a dozen years of blogging experience.

 

-What inspired you to become an author?

I’ve wanted to write books since I was a kid. As a teen, I spent my spare time writing fantasy novels. Then I got busy as a mom and didn’t have as much time to write. The actual impetus for becoming a published author this year was a need I saw.

Along with some homeschool friends, I was teaching my kids about our Canadian history from a Catholic viewpoint. We were basically coming up with our own curriculum, modelled on an American history curriculum we’d used and love for several years. I went looking for resources for kids about the Canadian saints and found… not much. There are a few books about St. Kateri Tekakwitha (a very popular saint) and St. Andre Bessette (a more recent saint), and other than that, not much.

So I started writing and created the resource that I wanted for my kids. North American Martyrs Kids Activity Book was finished in October 2019 (for their feast day!) and teaches kids 7- 12 about eight Jesuit missionaries to New France in the 1600s. In January, I started my second book, Canadian Saints Kids Activity Book, about the other 6 Canadian saints (including St. Kateri and St. Andre). I just finished writing it on St. Kateri’s feast day and it will be available at the end of this month.

 

 -What is your favorite genre and why?

Right now, my favourite genre is nonfiction. I’m really enjoying writing saint stories for kids. As a homeschool mom, my writing time happens while my kids are either busy doing their school or playing happily. I can write nonfiction while listening with one ear to their play, and drop what I’m doing to go help them if necessary. Someday, I’d love to get back to my fantasy novels, but they require a much greater degree of concentration to get into the story and characters, so it won’t happen while I’ve got my kids running around the house.

 

-How do you develop characters?

For my nonfiction books, I spend a lot of time researching. I did a history minor during my first university degree and I still love doing the research. I start by pulling all the books on the topic out of our library, and usually end up buying a few books when I can’t find what I want at the library.

Then I dig around online for as much as I can find out there. I’ve found some surprising things online, actually. Quite a few of the Jesuit Relations (like a newspaper or journal that the Jesuits sent home from the missionaries) are available online now.

As I read, I think about the saint I’m writing about and start taking notes to create their bio and an image of what they would be like.

 

-Which character from one of your books means the most to you and why?

My favourite saint so far is probably St. Noel Chabanel in North American Martyrs Kids Activity Book. He’s one of the lesser-known martyrs. I wrote his bio and then took a break from writing during a personal crisis. My husband was offered a job on the other side of the country, which would have let us move into my dream home.

Then he was offered a different job here, which he decided to take, and all my dreams crashed. After spending a month dealing with the death of that dream, I returned to edit my book and suddenly what I’d written about St. Noel was like a flashing billboard at me.

St. Noel, like the other Jesuit missionaries, felt called to come to New France and overcame various obstacles (including family members who didn’t want him to leave France) to get here. And once here, he hated it. Actually, he more than hated it – he loathed it here.

He couldn’t stand the habits of the Huron people whom he was supposed to be teaching. The food disgusted him and he was terrified of being captured and tortured by the Iroquois like so many other Catholics (both priests and converts) had been. He couldn’t even learn the language (despite his giftedness as a speaker and poet in French).

He fell into this huge depression, wondering if he’d somehow missed his calling. Maybe he should just give up and go back to France. Maybe he’d misheard God somehow. Then he had this turnaround point. He made a vow that no matter what, he’d stay in New France as a missionary. He’d be a “bloodless martyr” to his own nature.

After making that vow, his circumstances didn’t change, but he lost his fear of the Iroquois and even overcame his depression. He wasn’t captured and tortured, as the other martyrs were. We actually don’t really know what happened to him; he disappeared while traveling from one mission to another, so he may have been killed by an angry Iroquois or he may have just gotten lost and starved.

Anyway, his story spoke to me in the midst of my own personal crisis. That was over a year ago now and in many ways I still feel trapped as I did then. I try to remind myself that, for now, this is where God wants us to be, and to look on the positive things that we have here, and to be a “bloodless martyr” to my own wishes as St. Noel was.

 

-What age group are your books best suited for?

I’m a homeschool mom with kids ages 12 to 2, so that’s kind of the age range for my books. (Okay, the 2-year-old isn’t as interested.) I appreciate materials that I can use with all my kids and find that they respond best when they are all learning together.

Most of the activities are geared to kids who can read and write (so ages 7+) but my 4-year-old really likes the colouring pages and mazes. I hope the books can be a fun family activity for other Catholic families, whether or not they are homeschoolers.

 

-Do you have a specific routine/habits for writing?

I usually start the kids on their schoolwork after we finish breakfast. Then I made myself a coffee and sit down at the computer to look at my email, blogging commitments, and what’s up next for my book project.

Usually I can work in ten or fifteen minutes spurts, in between getting them snacks, answering homeschooling questions, reminding them to do school, getting the two-year-old off the table, etc. In the afternoon, I might have more writing time as they finish school and move onto reading, playing outside, or other activities. Sometimes I can fit in several hours of work on a Saturday.

 

-What can we expect from you in 2020/2021?

Canadian Saints Kids Activity Book will be available in early May on Amazon. I’m planning to start another kids book that will be available at the end of the year and just need to decide which idea to tackle next – I have several ideas for kids saint activity books! You can follow me on Instagram at @kidssaintbook to see saint quotes and inspiration and news about future books.

 

Bonnie Way – Book List

North American Martyrs Kids Activity Book (2019)

Canadian Martyrs Kids Activity Book (coming May 2020)

Love Rebel: Reclaiming Motherhood (an anthology to inspire moms) – More info at: https://thekoalamom.com/love-rebel-reclaiming-motherhood/

Beginner’s Guide to Growing Baby: Tips to Help You Through all Four Trimesters (with Anna Eastland, coming summer 2020) – More info at: https://thekoalamom.com/beginners-guide-growing-baby/

 

BOOK REVIEW: ‘Tortured Soul’ by Theresa Linden

I really enjoyed this. I was rather unmoved by the descriptions and slow to pick it up because I have little interest in ghost stories, but having read most of the author’s other books (and really liked them) I wanted to give this a try. I’m glad I did! I think it works as a conventional ghost story (if that’s your thing) but it also works as a spiritual thriller (much more my thing!) and there’s even a low key but very satisfying romantic plotline.

A highlight was the dinner party gone wrong which was equal parts painful and hilarious. I eventually began to get a little impatient with the creeping around, terrified what she was about to see, but as I said, horror’s not my thing. Loads of creeping around or not, I wouldn’t have missed this book. I found it hard to put it down, and also learned a lot from it.

***Mild SPOILER***
I also got frustrated with the main character that even after purgatory had been suggested, she didn’t start any sort of intensive prayer for the ghost. But thinking about it, I was just as ignorant until I went to dinner at a friend’s house a few years ago and heard about an apparition that had happened there, and the priest present made a good case for it being a soul in purgatory seeking prayers. Until then I would have been just as clueless as the main character. So this is a great book for anyone who doesn’t know much about purgatory or ‘real’ ghosts—i.e. an actual human soul manifesting rather than demonic activity. It would also be a good read for more mature teens.

A little non-fiction book called ‘Daily Pilgrimage to Purgatory’ might interest those who enjoy this book and want to pray for the holy souls.

Get it HERE.

[The author is a fellow member of Catholic Teen Books but I got the book myself and my opinions are my own.]

BOOK REVIEW: ‘Treachery and Truth’ – Katy Huth Jones

I’ve been looking forward to reading this historical saint story, and I wasn’t disappointed. I really didn’t know much about King Vaclav (Wenceslaus), even struggling to recall the words of the carol, so it was nice to learn more about him.

I liked the characters, especially Vaclav and Poidevin his servant (through whose eyes the story is told). I thought telling the reader at the outset what happens at the end might reduce the tension, but as it turns out there is one more big twist at the end that is unexpected.

I did feel Vaclav was perhaps presented as a little unrealistically ‘saintly’ and could have come across more human. On the other hand, we’re seeing the story through the eyes of a freed slave whom Vaclav has taught to read and treated as a brother, so the aura of perfection/hero-worship in how Poidevin sees Vaclav is actually very convincing.

SPOILER ALERT

I had a bit of a niggle with the way the martyrdom was presented at the end. I seriously wanted to pin Vaclav to a wall and give him a lecture on his duties and responsibilities as a husband, father, king, and master. He seems to totally drop the ball on all those things, with catastrophic results. A Christian is not supposed to seek martyrdom, and I’d have liked to either see his stubborn determination to put himself in that position explained/made acceptable by him feeling a strong specific calling from God to do so, or I’d have liked him to be genuinely taken in by his brother (as was probably the case historically). Clearly knowing that his brother wasn’t necessarily to be trusted but doing it anyway came across as plain irresponsible.

My other niggle was that the focus on his brother when it came to his martyrdom really obscured his martyr-status. I actually caught myself thinking, after finishing the book, ‘Of course, he was a saint, but he wasn’t actually a martyr, because he was simply killed by an envious brother.’ And then I was like, ‘Hang on! He WAS a martyr, he was actually killed by pagan nobles who didn’t want a Christian on the throne, of whose number his brother was just one.’ So that really didn’t work well for me.

Other than that one scene, I really enjoyed the book. I loved how the author worked the events of the Christmas carol into the story, and the way she showed what it was like to live under the old pagan religion. After so many centuries of Christianity it’s very hard for us in the West to understand what such religions can be like, so that was particularly interesting.

Overall, a great read for teens and adults, and, needless to say, a great Christmas gift!

Get it HERE.

 

[I am acquainted with the author through an author group but bought my own copy of this book to review. Opinions are my own.]

BOOK REVIEW: ‘The Other Side of Freedom’ – Cynthia Toney

I’ve heard so much about this book and all the prizes it’s won, and been intending to read it for some time, although the blurb didn’t entirely grab me. I’m glad I finally read it! It took me a few chapters to get fully into it, but then I was hooked.

Sal is an engaging hero, and all the characters are fun and well drawn, especially Hiram (I liked the little flashes that highlighted the situation of black people at the time, without letting it take over the story), and Antonina (just moving from girl to young woman). It’s a dramatic story told in a down-to-earth and non-sensational manner, very realistic and all the more powerful for that.

There were a couple of places in the last third when I’d have actually liked a bit more explanation/clarity, but I was reading pretty fast by then, impatient to find out what happened, so the fault may be more with me than the book.

I was relieved the law turned out to be on the side of Sal’s father because I really wasn’t convinced it would be, and spent most of the book on tenterhooks as to how that could come out all right. But I’m no lawyer and I’m sure the author researched carefully.

The title is a clever play on the town name and some of the events of the book!

Overall an excellent story highlighting the troubles (especially for Italians) of the prohibition, through the eyes of a conflicted teen protagonist, and a good study of a crisis of conscience. A great read for teen boys or girls (and the young at heart!).

Get it HERE.

[I am acquainted with the author through an author group but have reviewed this book by my free choice. Opinions are my own.]

BOOK REVIEW: ‘Ornamental Graces’ – Carolyn Astfalk

I don’t read a huge amount of romance and I enjoyed this way more than I was expecting to. In fact, I was blown away by how good it was. Dan and Emily have a long and difficult road to happiness and I kept looking at the progress bar and going, ‘what the? I’m only 20% through. What the? I’m only 50% through! How much more are they going to have to go through before they’re together!’ BUT I wasn’t looking at the progress bar in an ‘I’m bored, hurry up’ sense, just a wondering, in-sympathy-with-the-characters sense.

I think I’m used to short formulaic romances where the requisite few road bumps are hit, overcome, and everything wrapped up all in a concise bundle. I really, really liked the fact that this novel walked the long road with the couple, that it wasn’t clean and quick, but messy and realistic and difficult, but they persevered and they made it (hardly a spoiler, I think, for a romance!). I imagine some readers might get bored and call it slow, but I was engrossed, and it made the pay-off way more satisfying. This had very much the deep, satisfying feel of ‘Intermission’ by Serena Chase and I’d be hard put to say which I enjoyed more.

For Christians who read widely in secular fiction, this will be a warm, refreshing, inspiring read. Christians who’ve been on a diet of more exclusively Christian fare may find the outlook of the main characters a mite sensual for their taste. They’re well written, and realistically portrayed, and they’re trying so hard, which is inspiring, but they don’t, shall we say, always engage in thoughts and behaviour best calculated to help them with their goal of waiting for marriage. I’d be reluctant to give this to a sheltered teen reader, for example, but that’s hardly the target audience.

I should note that the cover and blurb present this as a ‘Christmas’ novel, but that’s unnecessarily limiting. It’s an excellent all year round romance, so dive in at any time!

Get it HERE.

[I’m acquainted with the author through an author group, but have freely chosen to review this book. Opinions are my own.]

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: ‘Pinocchio’ by Carlo Collodi

To be honest, I struggled with this book. I found the main character incredibly frustrating. He almost always did the wrong thing. I mean, almost ALWAYS. Well, people sometimes do (including me!), but what he does is also almost always incredibly stupid. Well, again, people do stupid things (including me!), and the main character is, after all, a puppet who is only moments old at the beginning of the book, so how is he to know better? Fair question, but still, I found the book hard work. He just did not seem to learn from his mistakes.

Admittedly, the dire catalogue of largely self-inflicted misadventures does make the ending all the more touching and satisfying. If you can make it that far.

The thing that struck me most about the book was actually the strong pro-life message it sends. A man gets a log of firewood out of which to carve a puppet. Said puppet promptly—and unexpectedly—comes to life. The man unhesitatingly regards the puppet as his son, and right from the get up and go begins to sacrifice his own needs and comforts for the puppet’s well-being and advancement. He continues to do so throughout the entire book, despite the puppet turning out to be one of the most foolish, thoughtless, and selfish sons imaginable. Regardless, the man remains unwavering in love for his unplanned child, showing a perfect example of what a good father (or mother) should be.

Perhaps it says something about our time—and the time in which the book was written—that this should strike me so. When the book was written, an unexpected pregnancy was an unexpected baby, no question. Nowadays only expected pregnancies are ‘babies’, unexpected ones are merely ‘tissue’ that can be disposed of. If Pinocchio was written today, it might well be a much shorter book. The old wood carver would probably be shown terminating his unexpected responsibilities by putting the mere ‘wood’ straight on the fire the moment it began to—oh so inconveniently—move.

 

You can 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.]