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.

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: ‘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!]