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Showing posts with label CynthiaTToney. Show all posts
Showing posts with label CynthiaTToney. Show all posts

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Gifts Visible & Invisible 8 Christmas Stories for Teens - Catholic Teen Books

Gifts: Visible & Invisible 
8 Christmas Stories for Teens 
From Catholic Teen Books
ISBN 9780997971859

ASIN B07YK7PSW6


Wow! What an amazing collection of Christmas stories! I know not everyone likes short stories, but I love them, and this collection is amazing! Short stories are a different art form than novels. For a short story to be good, the writing needs to be tighter and crisper. And each of the 8 in this collection are very well written. One of the things I normally love about reading anthologies is discovering new authors. But that was not the case this time. I have read books by all of the contributors and had high expectations for this collection. I loved the anthology Secrets Visible & Invisible from the authors at Catholic Teen Books.

Contributors:
Carolyn Astfalk
T. M. Gaouette
Katy Huth Jones
Theresa Linden
Susan Peek
Cynthia T. Toney
Corinna Turner
Leslea Wahl

In this collection we have one Christmas short story from each of the contributors. Some contain characters you may encounter in novels by the authors, and one has characters in a forthcoming novel. I have read this anthology once and I have listened to it a second time. It is one of the best anthologies I have ever encountered for Catholic or Christian fiction!

Contents:
The Outlaws’ Friend - Susan Peek
In The Steps Of A Saint - Katy Huth Jones
A Perfect Christmas - Carolyn Astfalk
Operation Gift Drop - Theresa Linden
Christmas Angel - Leslea Wahl
Signs Of Christmas - Cynthia T. Toney
Just Jesus - T. M. Gaouette
A Very Jurassic Christmas Eve - Corinna Turner

As I have mentioned, this is a great collection of short stories. I really could not pick a favorite or least favorite. Each story is well written. And I thoroughly enjoyed them all. In the collection, we encounter 2 Historical stories, 2 Dystopian, and 4 Contemporary. Though I might argue that the last is Science Fiction and not Dystopian, but that would just be my classification of the tale. And here is a summary of each story.

The Outlaws’ Friend

This story took me completely by surprise. It is truly a gem. Susan Peek specializes in writing historical fiction around the lives of the saints, and the subject of this story, the most current hero of the faith she’s written about, is on his way to being canonized. It is a story that starts in a snowstorm just before Christmas and tells of a life of service.

In The Steps Of A Saint

Katy Huth Jones has written about the good King Wenceslas in her novel Treachery and Truth. But this is the story of a young man named Andrew who figures out the meaning of the song and starts to live it out. And because of his passion, his new youth group and parish are doing something more to be good and kind. I love that the story is written around the carol, the meaning of the song, and the life that inspired it.

A Perfect Christmas

Christmas expectations unmet? How many of us have not been here before? But this year, it seems like everything that can go wrong does. Dad is away and Mom is dealing with a newborn—on top of the other kids. But fifteen-year-old Marigold had so many plans for this Christmas and they all seem to be falling short. However, after a first-time Christmas Eve visit to the neighbours, she has a new perspective on things. The characters are great. And if we are lucky, they will appear in a new novel from the author in 2021.

Operation Gift Drop

This is a new story set in the world of the Chasing Liberty novels. There are 3 novels and several short stories set in this near future dystopian world. Liberty does not make an appearance in this story but one of the main characters, Dedrick, did. If you are not familiar with the stories, this is a great introduction. And if you are, it adds to a world I am sure you know and love. This is a great story!  ... I was hoping for a West Brothers story, oh well maybe in the next anthology.

Christmas Angel

This story is about experiencing Christ in Christmas. It is also about sacrifices and giving. Read and discover how Meg put Christ in Christmas and how her own actions start to inspire others. It is a wonderful tale of growth. We do not always get to see the results of our charity, but in this story, we get a glimpse.

Signs Of Christmas

Christmas 1925 and it’s the first that 14-year-old Antonina will spend apart from her best friend Salvatore. But while missing her old friend, she makes a new one, and she’s a friend in need. As Antonina listens for God to guide her to help where she can, she gets a surprising answer to a Christmas prayer. This story is set after the events of The Other Side of Freedom. It was great to revisit the characters. And Toney has crafted a moving Christmas tale. 

Just Jesus 

The theme in this story is around a class of students and their expectations of what is needed for Christmas. It is a mix of experiences and expectations. This is an excellent little story. But to be honest it really left me wanting more. I want to know more of Luke's story, both before and after this event. I also wish to know more about Vanessa. I love the story and the message. It makes me want to get carved baby Jesus for my three kids and to read the story with them.


A Very Jurassic Christmas Eve

I have read the three novels in the unSPARKed world. I love the world Turner has built. And this Christmas story gives us another glimpse into it. The sentence that really got me was:

“What was it like in the old days, before the crazy scientists and their arrogant assumption that they could contain the creatures they’d bred? Hard to imagine, and I don’t waste time trying. So what if the world outside the fenced cities is harsher and more dangerous than it once was? It’s my home, and I like it as it is.”

It is a story about the gift of time. And the gift of compassion. And an allosaur and her brood. In this story we encounter again Darryl and Joshua. And it is all wrapped up like Christmas with family, faith, and friends.

For fans of the authors in this collection, you need to pick this book up to read their contribution. For readers who love remarkable stories, this collection is also for you. If you want some great reads that are clean Catholic\Christian fiction focused around the holidays, this is the book for you.

This anthology is amazing! And I can only hope the Catholic Teen Books releases another collection soon. I cannot imagine what they would come up with in a collection focused on Lent, Holy Week, and Easter. If you love great short stories you owe it to yourself to give this collection a try! 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2019 Catholic Reading Plan!

Links to other reviews of books by the contributors:
Carolyn Astfalk
T. M. Gaouette

Katy Huth Jones
Theresa Linden
Susan Peek
Cynthia T. Toney
Corinna Turner
Leslea Wahl


Anthologies from the Catholic Teen Books Authors:
Secrets Visible & Invisible 7 Amazing Stories 
Gifts Visible & Invisible 8 Christmas Stories for Teens
...



Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Author Profile and Interview with Cynthia Toney

Author Profile and Interview with Cynthia Toney


Cynthia T. Toney is the author of the Bird Face Wendy series and also a historical fiction novel set in the 1920’s in the south. She has contributed to one anthology. She tirelessly supports other Christian authors and is dedicated to supporting Catholic Teen books and authors. Cynthia took some time from her busy schedule to answer 20 questions for the readers here at Book reviews and More. So, here in her own words is Cynthia:

1. When did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you nurture that dream?

I wanted to learn to write while still in school, long before I thought I might become a writer. I could handle short compositions but nothing longer than a page. It didn’t help my confidence that a professor made fun of my assignment in class! I had tried to inject humor into my writing, but I guess he was looking for something high-brow. I later knew I needed to become a writer when I kept trying to rewrite others’ advertising copy while working in advertising and marketing design. I tried to write greeting cards, but no one was interested in my work, LOL.

2. If you had not become a writer what do you think you would be doing for a living?

Perhaps an advertising and marketing designer until I retired. But if I had my whole adult life to do over, I would’ve studied to become a veterinarian.

3. Who were some of your biggest supporters and contributors to your early success?

My husband simply would not give up on me. He gave me emotional support while I sought my first publisher and waited for the first book, now out of print, to be published. He encouraged me and praised my books each time a new one was published. I think my mother would have been a big supporter, but she passed away before seeing the first book.

4. What authors influenced your writing style and format?

When I read Betsy Byars’ Bingo Brown series, I loved the humor so much. I wanted to write stories for the age group she did and told myself I could create a story at least as good as one of those.

5. What does your writing process look like? Takes us through the steps from idea to publishing?

When I start thinking about writing a new story, I open up to random ideas at first. Sometimes I jot them down, but I don’t have the whole story formulated. Then I try to come up with an opening line or two that might grab the reader by giving the main character’s emotional state. At first, I think only about how I want the story to start and to end. Then I try to decide what needs to happen in the middle to make that exciting. So, I build and fill in from those three points. 

6. Is your writing process different for contemporary fiction compared to your historical fiction offering.

Not much, but I found an outline of sorts proved necessary for my historical, The Other Side of Freedom, whereas not so much for the contemporary novels. If the story requires an outline for me to keep track of everything, I write short chapter summaries. That way, I can print them, cut them apart, make notes, and rearrange them to study. 

7. Do you use a playlist when writing? Are certain books written while predominantly listing to the same music?

I have never been able to accomplish mental tasks while listening to music or television in the background. Maybe a train on nearby railroad tracks. I find the rumbling soothing, and the horns don’t bother me.

8. What of your books was the hardest to write and why?

Other than the first one, which took ten years because of personal and career interruptions, my historical novel took the longest. That was probably due to the research required to make the setting and events believable. 

9. One of the greatest strengths in your books are the characters, they are so solid and believable. The characters you create, are they reflections of people you know, composites of different people you know or entirely your creations?

Thank you for that. My characters are usually completely imagined or a combination of many people I’ve known, sometimes only for a brief period of time. If a characteristic or trait either impresses or annoys me, I often think how I might use it for a character. But a writer must be careful when combining traits because, if traits appear together in a character, they must combine in a way that still allows the character to be believable. So, in real life, would or could someone who is or does a certain something also be able to be or do a certain something else?

10. I once heard Madeleine L'Engle state that her characters were real to her and almost an extended part of her family, she said once that at the dinner table she sat up and stated: "Meg just finished her PhD." Are your characters real to you, do you ever get glimpses of what they are up to now, or once you finish a book is that it?

They often feel as real to me as my Facebook friends I’ve never met online! In the same way, I imagine them talking and moving about in their daily lives. I do think of what they might do next in the same novel or in a different setting with different people around them. I imagine that’s also how other authors develop their sequels. 

11. If you happened to get glimpses of Wendy from the Bird Face series could you see yourself returning to that character at a different point in her life?

I could. I’m planning to give her some space for right now, like a mother would give a teenage child who, after many trials, has proven herself to be trustworthy. 

12. What were some of your favorite books and authors when you were younger?

As a child, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. In high school, The Scarlet Letter, which I believe was required in ninth grade.  The period when I began reading a lot of novels and true-crime was my twenties. I remember reading Helter Skelter and The Thorn Birds, as well as many of the best-sellers of the time. Before that, I suppose I stayed busy with high school and college assignments. I’m sure I read other books in my youth, but I can’t remember them now.

13. You spend a lot of time promoting other authors and supporting them and their works. How and why did you develop this habit?

Once I became an author, I met so many good authors, many of them Catholic and Christian who were overlooked. Their books were better than the best sellers from big publishing houses! The difference in their success was that those with well-known publishers had big-budget marketing supporting them. I also noticed that Catholic authors of YA novels suitable for Catholic teens had not organized into a cross-promotion support group. That’s how the Books for Catholic Teens Facebook group came into being. At first, A.J. Cattapan and I didn’t know if we’d find enough of us to create a working group. Boy, were we surprised! From there, the group known as Catholic Teen Books formed, with the website CatholicTeenBooks.com

14. Who are some of your favorite authors or books now?

I thought Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz, Cinder by Marissa Meyer, This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab, and A Star Curiously Singing by Kerry Nietz were very clever. I just haven’t had time to read any more books in the series for those. 

15. If you could only recommend 10 Catholic books, what would they be?

These are some I’ve recently read and enjoyed, and I bet you haven’t seen a list quite like this. Nothing classic here. Non-fiction is listed first.

Fatima: The Apparition That Changed the World by Jean M. Heimann
Marie Antoinette, Daughter of the Caesars by Elena Maria Vidal
Italian Louisiana: History, Heritage, and Tradition by Alan G. Gautreaux
Crusader King by Susan Peek,
Image and Likeness: Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body by Erin McCole Cupp and others,
A Shepherd’s Song by Janice Lane Palko, 
Falling As She Sings by C.J. Sursum,
The Boys Upstairs by Jane Lebak,

Instead of completing this list with two more books, I recommend readers visit the Catholic Teen Books website and select one of its many wonderful novels for tweens and teens. I’ve read most and can’t choose only two from among them. 

16. All your books are available in electronic formats but with that comes bootleg distribution. Some authors monitor torrent sites and have their publishers contact them to remove their content. Do you do so are have someone do so for you?

My publisher was not having much success with that, so I subscribed to Blasty from Google. They remove those bootleg sites from Google searches for my books so as to minimize people finding them there. 

17. Your eBooks are only available through Kindle, are you concerned that you might be limiting your readership by not being on the Kobo, or iBooks platforms? 

My publisher tried Kobo for one or more of my books, but we didn’t sell any there. We also discussed iBooks, and there was a reason we decided not to pursue that, but now I don’t remember. I think it had something to do with Amazon. Amazon keeps changing its policies, so I might bring up the subject of iBooks again. 

18. I once had a university professor state that the true goal of a university education should be to teach one to learn how to think. What would you state should be the goal of higher education and why?

First, I think good parents should teach their children how to think. Today’s institutions of higher education, and some secondary schools, seem to teach students what to think, not how to think for themselves. Higher education should teach students to research primary sources of information such as Church and government documents and not rely solely on watered-down or politically correct rewritten history. 

19. If you were stuck on a desert island and could only have 10 books to read again and again, what books would you want with you?

I perhaps wouldn’t need 10. My bible and books on survival and those I’ve read about foraging for edible plants would be most needed.

20. What advice would you give to young aspiring authors and artists particularly those looking to have their art reflect their faith?

Be not afraid.

Thank you, Cynthia, for responding to our 20 questions. And I look forward to the book you will publish next. And if you have not read her books give them a chance they are all excellent reads!

Books by Cynthia T. Toney:
The Other Side of Freedom
... 

Bird Face Series:
8 Notes to a Nobody
10 Steps to Girlfriend Status
6 Dates to Disaster
3 Things to Forget
... 

Contributed to:
Secrets: Visible & Invisible 7 Amazing Stories - Catholic Teen Books
Gifts Visible & Invisible 8 Christmas Stories for Teens
...

Author Profile and Interview with Cynthia Toney. 







Friday, 19 October 2018

3 Things to Forget - Cynthia T. Toney - Bird Face Book 4

3 Things to Forget
Bird Face Book 4
Cynthia T. Toney
Write Integrity Press
ISBN 9781944120627
ASIN B07JBQZF8J


This is the fifth novel by Cynthia Toney that I have read in the last year and a half. And it is with mixed emotions that I read and review this book. For the author has announced that this is the fourth and final novel in the Bird face series. I can only hope that like Madeleine L'Engle's character Meg, that maybe someday we will encounter Wendy again, maybe even as a mother herself. But that might just be fanciful wishing on my part. As a father of daughters, I find that I now read a lot of books that I would not have read in my own youth, or even earlier in my years as an adult. 

This book is what I would consider classic clean young adult fiction. There is no sex, but there is talk about it. There are no alternative lifestyles just for the sake of diversity. It is good clean Christian fiction. And it also falls within the realms of normal life fiction. It is an excellent read. And was very hard to put down. If you have read some of the other Bird face books you will be familiar with the characters and some of the events. 

The story begins with Wendy on a flight to Alaska. She is going to spend the summer with Sam's family and will be volunteering at an animal reserve. She is thankful to be away from home, and her recent breakup with David, and the whole uproar over the who tutoring for hire incident. She is working with Sam, and Levi and Levi's sister Devorah. Both Sam and Levi are deaf and use sign language to communicate. So, Wendy is trying to learn more American Sign Language. To begin work she is often paired with Devorah, and Devorah initially opens up to Wendy. From that point on Wendy is praying for guidance on how to her with all she is dealing with.

This book focuses around themes of friends and family. It also has the element of Wendy a Catholic girl trying to understand, help and pray for a Jewish friend. Devorah is acting out because of how she is feeling. And Wendy has seen how destructive that can be and is trying hard to provide wise counsel. Wendy is also there because her surrogate grandmother Mrs. V, Sam's grandmother, has Alzheimer's and is going down hill. 

This book had a few surprises. But readers young and not so young will love following Wendy as she tries to fit in away from home, and find a balance between helping and being a nuisance.  When you add in the scenery from the Alaskan setting, and the animals at the shelter it provides a wonderful backdrop for the story.

Another excellent read from the pen of Cynthia T. Toney. I know that I am hooked on her writing and am addicting my oldest daughter. I am sure if you give this book or the series a try you will love them also. An excellent read that will entertain and challenge!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2018 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Cynthia T. Toney:
The Other Side of Freedom
... 

Bird Face Series:
8 Notes to a Nobody
10 Steps to Girlfriend Status
6 Dates to Disaster
3 Things to Forget
... 

Contributed to:
Secrets: Visible & Invisible 7 Amazing Stories - Catholic Teen Books
Gifts Visible & Invisible 8 Christmas Stories for Teens
...








Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Secrets: Visible & Invisible 7 Amazing Stories - Catholic Teen Books

Secrets Visible & Invisible 
7 Amazing Stories
From Catholic Teen Books
ISBN 9780997971828

ASIN B07F63ZN5Z  


One of the things I love about reading anthologies is discovering new authors. But that was not the case this time. I have read books by 6 of the seven contributors. In fact, at the time of writing this review I have read 33 books, novellas, or published short stories across the 6 authors. And I already have 3 eBooks by the author I have not read in my to be read list. So, I knew I was in for some great reading when I picked up this collection. What I was not prepared for was how exceptional this collection was. Often when I read an anthology there are a few great reads, some good reads and some okay reads. That was not the case this time. Every story was a remarkable story. Some of the stories were so good, I immediately went back and reread just that story. And then when I finished the book I reread the whole thing again a few days later.

Mark Hart in the forward to this collection states:
“We call Him Savior, Teacher, Wonder Worker, and Lord. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Bread of Life and the Light of the World. He is the Messiah, the Promised One, the Divine Physician…the Good Shepherd. Jesus Christ is all of these titles and an endless list of more. Yet, there is one title that I’ve rarely – if ever – heard used to describe Jesus of Nazareth, and I feel it is a glaringly myopic omission on our part.Almost never have I heard Jesus Christ described as “Master Storyteller,” though He most certainly was.”
And many of the contributors to this collections in their own way imitate Christ and are master storytellers in our own generation. I have a great deal of respect for the seven authors who contributed to this series. And even more so after reading their pieces in this collection.

Contributors:
Carolyn Astfalk
T. M. Gaouette
Theresa Linden
Susan Peek
Cynthia T. Toney
Corinna Turner
Leslea Wahl

In this collection we have one short story from each of the contributors. Some contain characters you can encounter in novels by the authors. One combines characters for different novels from the author.

Contents:
The Underappreciated Virtues Of Rusty Old Bicycles - Corinna Turner
Recreation - Cynthia T. Toney
The Portrait Of The Fire Starters - Theresa Linden
On The Brink Of Hell - Susan Peek
Sister Francesca - T.M. Gaouette
Behind The Wheel - Carolyn Astfalk
More Precious Than Gold - Leslea Wahl

As mentioned this is a great collection of short stories. I really could not pick a favorite or least favorite. Each story is very well written. And I thoroughly enjoyed them all. And here is a summary of each story.

The Underappreciated Virtues Of Rusty Old Bicycles

This story is a peek at Bane and Margo before the sorting in I am Margaret. It highlights the strength of their friendship. The risks in day to day life in a totalitarian regime. It also has some great characters that we do not encounter again in the books. There is a very interesting twist in this story.

Recreation

This story took me by surprise. It is a story of service and giving. It is a story about friendship. It is the friendship of Elijah and Darrell-teens of African and Vietnamese heritage-growing up in the south. It is the story of seeing a need, and stepping up to do something about it. It also reminds readers that not all things are as they appear.

The Portrait Of The Fire Starters

With four young adult novels and one adult novel centered around the West Brothers, Theresa Linden returns to tell a story about the youth group from church that meets at the high school. I believe this story falls between Roland West Loner and Life-Changing Love. If you are fans of the books this story sheds some new light on several of the characters from the series. It speaks to questions about how we see ourselves, and how others see us. And it will likely pull on your heartstrings.

On The Brink Of Hell

This story jumps back to the 16th Century in Italy. It is the story, of a soldier wounded in battle. Dario has done much he is not proud of. And after being severely injured in battle, this story tells of his treatment. He's also reflecting on  past events, fading in and out of memories, while enduring present-day pain in the hospital.

Sister Francesca

I have read the three published novels by T.M. Gaouette. And I enjoyed them a lot. But this story is something very different. It has a touch of the mystical, and a touch of the contemplative in it. It reminds me a lot of some of the stories by J.F. Powers. It is the story of a young man's love; love that brings out the best in a person, even if it does not become a relationship. Of the authors I had read before this story was the biggest surprise.

Behind The Wheel

I have been hearing about the writings of Carolyn Astfalk and I have picked up three of her novels. I just have not got around to reading them. But after reading this short story the novel Rightfully Ours, with the same characters jumped to the top of my reading list. This story is about taking a risk and breaking rules. But when the moment comes, will character come through or will it self-preservation win out? It was a great story and I look forward to reading more by Astfalk.

More Precious Than Gold

I have read both published novels by Wahl, and they are excellent. This book takes the couples from both of those stories and drops them into a new environment together. From The Perfect Blindside we have Jake and Sophie. And from An Unexpected Role we have Josie and Ryan. But in this story, they are volunteering for a week at a Christian camp for disadvantaged children. It's a story of being stuck between a rock and a hard place; or is it a hard case. A wonderful story, and great conclusion to the collection.

For fans of any of the authors in this collection, you need to pick this book up to read their contribution. For readers who love remarkable stories, this collection is for you also. And if you want some great reads that are clean Catholic fiction this is the book for you. This anthology is Amazing!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2018 Catholic Reading Plan!

Links to other reviews of books by the contributors:
Carolyn Astfalk
T. M. Gaouette
Theresa Linden
Susan Peek
Cynthia T. Toney
Corinna Turner
Leslea Wahl


Anthologies from the Catholic Teen Books Authors:
Secrets Visible & Invisible 7 Amazing Stories 
Gifts Visible & Invisible 8 Christmas Stories for Teens
...





Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Top Ten Fiction and Non-Fiction Books First Quarter 2018

Top Ten Fiction and Non-Fiction Books First Quarter 2018

I continue to average about a book a day; and have done so over the last two years. This change came about in part due to several factors. First would be a job switch mid 2016 that has lead to a much better work-life balance. Second would be walking between 40-120 minutes a day and using text to speech to listen to books while walking. I currently listen to a book while walking to my bus stop and then read the book while on the bus, and the reverse on the way home. And a few years ago, I removed all games from my PC, phone and tablet, except for a brain training game and Catholic trivia game. I also applied many tips and tricks from Brandon Vogt’s course Read More Books Now. Those three factors have greatly increased how much I am able to read. 

So how does this quarter look? I read 91 books, of those 91 I gave a 5/5 rating to 47. Of those 47 the total non-fiction was 30 and the fiction were 17. So, all in all it was a good quarter. Also, of those 47 a total of 10 were books that had been read and on top ten lists previously. So, I will pick a Top 10 in each category from the new reads and give a hat tip to the rereads. I read some amazing books and narrowing it down to a top ten was not easy. 

Top Ten Non-Fiction Books:
1. God Is Love - Pope Benedict XVI - Deus Caritas Est
2. From Islam to Christ: One Woman's Path through the Riddles of God - Derya Little 
3. I Don't Like Lent - Daniel Lord S.J. 
4. Stories of Saints by Alice Curtayne
5. Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque - Emily Beata Marsh and Dani Lachuk - Encounter the Saints Book 37
6. The Fourth Cup: Unlocking the Secrets of the Last Supper and Christ's Crucifixion - Scott Hahn
7. The Peace Promise: Trusting God to Solve the Unsolvable - John Kuypers
8. Blessings from the Battlefield - Ed. Thomas R. O'Brien 
9. Saint Catherine of Siena - Alice Curtayne
10. A Catholic Guide to Mindfulness - Susan Brinkmann

Bonus:
St. Robert Bellarmine - Shaun McAfee
Trickle Down Mindset: The Missing Element In Your Personal Success - Michal Stawicki
Divine Mercy in My Pocket - Marianne Lorraine Trouvé
Keeping Mary Close: Devotion to Our Lady through the Ages - Mike Aquilina and Frederick W. Gruber
Mary Help in Hard Times - Marianne Lorraine Trouve

Extra Bonus Previously on Top Ten List:
1. In Conversation with God - Francis Fernandez
(New eBook editions links to all reviews here)
Volume 2 Part 1: Lent & Holy Week
2. Welcome Baby Jesus: Advent and Christmas Reflections for Families - Sarah A. Reinhard
3. Master Your Time in 10 Minutes a Day: Time Management Tips for Anyone Struggling with Work-Life Balance - Michal Stawicki

Top Ten Fiction Books:
1. Anyone But Him - Theresa Linden
2. Image and Likeness: Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body - Edited by Erin McCole Cupp and Ellen Gable
3. Amber Fang Revenge - Arthur Slade - Amber Fang Librarian. Assassin. Vampire Book 3
4. Kayan Kronicles - Derya Little 
5. Testing Liberty - Theresa Linden - Chasing Liberty Book 2
6. The Other Side of Freedom - Cynthia T. Toney
7. Stealing Jenny - Ellen Gable
8. Wonder - R.J. Palacio - Wonder Book 1.0
9. We're All Wonders - R.J. Palacio
10. The Revisionary - Kristen Hogrefe - The Rogues Book 1.0

Bonus Previously on Top Ten List:
1. The Flash Hocus Pocus - Barry Lyga
2. Modo Ember's End - Arthur Slade and Christopher Steininger - Mission Clockwork Graphic Novel

Note: I did not include books that have been read in previous years and were reread this year in my top ten lists, they were in the bonus section. As stated it was no easy task making this quarter. But if you want more options check out my favorite books year by year list. This post is going up early because of the end of the quarter falling during holy week.

Relates Posts: 
Top 10 Fiction Books 1st Quarter 2010
Top 10 Fiction Books 2nd Quarter 2010
Top 10 Reading Goals for 2010
Top 10 Fiction Books 3rd Quarter 2010

Top 10 Fiction Books 4th Quarter 2010
Top Ten Reading Goals For 2010 - Recap

Top 10 Fiction Books 2010
Top 10 Picture Books of 2010
Top 10 Non-Fiction Books of 2010

Top 10 Graphic Novels for 2010
Top Ten Reading Goals For 2011
 

Top Ten Fiction Books 1st Quarter 2011
Top Ten Fiction Books 2nd Quarter 2011
Top Ten Reading Goals for 2011 Update
 
Top Ten Fiction Books 3rd Quarter 2011 
Top Ten Fictions Books 4th Quarter 2011
Top Ten Fiction Books 2011
Top Ten Reading Goals 2011 - Recap
Top Ten Reading Goals 2012
Top Ten Fiction Books 1st Quarter 2012
Top Ten Fiction Books 2nd Quarter 2012

Top Ten Fiction Books 3rd Quarter 2012
Top Ten Fiction Books  4th Quarter 2012
Top Ten Fiction Books 2012
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2012
Top Ten Reading Goals 2012 - Recap
Top Ten Reading Goals 2013
Top 10 Fiction Books 1st Quarter 2013

Top 10 Fiction Books 2nd Quarter 2013
Top 10 Books Second Half 2013
Top Ten Fiction Books 2013
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2013 
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2014
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2014
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2014
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2014
Top Ten Fiction Books 2014
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2014
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2015
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2015
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2015
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2015
Top Ten Fiction Books 2015
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2015
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2016
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Statistics Books Read By Year:

91 - January to march 2018
380 - 2017 
272 - 2016 
177 - 2015 
130 - 2014 
88 -  2013
176 - 2012 
163 - 2011
302 - 2010
142 - 2009
98 - 2008
83 - 2007
191 - 2006
151 - 2005
60 - 2004
52 - 2003
97 - 2002
50 - 2001
41 - 2000
71 - 1999
73 - 1998
131 - 1997
101 - 1996




Monday, 5 March 2018

The Other Side of Freedom - Cynthia T. Toney

The Other Side of Freedom
Cynthia T. Toney
Write Integrity Press
ISBN 9781944120399
ASIN B075DHXRKF


This was the fourth book by Cynthia T. Toney that I have read in the last year. The other three are from the Bird Face series about life in modern high school. And as much as I liked those books, I really loved this one. This book is completely different. It is historical fiction and set in the southern United States, in the 1920's. This middle grade novel is an amazing read for young readers, teens and even adults willing to give it a short. 

This is a very moving book. It draws upon emptions, prejudices, and the political climate of a very different time. As a Canadian reading about the deep south is as foreign as reading about continental Europe. But that does not mean that I cannot read and learn from that reading. This is the primarily a story about Sal Scavianos, a young man, coming of age, in a close-knit Italian immigrant family. Sal is just 13 but he does well in school and works hard on the family farm. The family has worked hard to build their farm, and the family business selling their produce ad products. In Freedom Louisiana it took time and challenging work for them to succeed. But thing start to go off track when Sal notices some strangers in fancy suits talking to his father. Sal faces some very tough decisions, decisions that could have life and death consequences. Consequences for himself, his family, and the young woman he is interested in. 

In this story family history and expectations from the family's ethnic group play a major role in the story line. Sal is put in a very difficult place. And things look bleak for his family. And yet he needs to make a decision that will have lasting consequences because it is what he believes is the best path forward.

This book really made me think. It made me think about the immigrants in my own family tree, coming from Ireland and Scotland. It also made me think about the prejudices people experience. Both in the past and also today. The story is powerful. It evokes strong emotions in readers. I could hardly put the book down. In many ways this is a classic story of Good vs Evil, but with a young man facing choice that will make him an unknown hero; or bring ruin to all he knows and hold dear. 

A story tat leaves me thinking about it days weeks after I finish reading it is a story that I believe is masterfully written. This is one such book. I cannot wait until my youngest are a little older to read it with them and am currently reading it a second time with my oldest. As such it has my seal of approval for the whole family!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2018 Catholic Reading Plan!





Tuesday, 30 January 2018

6 Dates to Disaster - Cynthia T. Toney - Bird Face Book 3

6 Dates to Disaster
Bird Face Book 3
Cynthia T. Toney
Write Integrity Press
ISBN 9781944120245
ASIN B01MXUMV8K


The title of the first book in this series, 8 Notes to a Nobody, really grabbed my attention. And to be honest I had bought books 2 and 3 before even finishing book 1. So this book is my third by Cynthia T. Toney, that I have read, but it will not be my last. I know that as a middle aged man I am not the default audience for these books. But as a father of a son, and of daughters this is the type of book I need to read, and reread with them. There are great lessons in these books, and the characters struggles with their faith and life can serve as example and motivation for readers of any age. 

What I love most about the books by Cynthia T. Tooney is that they are good clean reads. They do not preach, but they do teach a lesson, they show honest struggles. The characters do have struggles and they often make mistakes, and sometimes big mistakes. And those mistakes have consequences. However there reads are not smutty, they do not portray alternative lifestyles just for the sake of having it in the book, or being politically correct. I classify these books as realistic fiction much along the lines of Madeleine L'Engle's Chronos books. Now in this book we do have a blended family, but one that was approved by the Church. We also have a family facing hard times. The father has been laid off from work. Both the father and mother are looking for jobs now. And the older kids need to help more around the house especially with their younger brother that has extra needs. 

Wendy Robichaud's life that came together in a way that it has never been, is now falling apart in an entirely different way. Her step father has lost his job. And the family needs to make some tough decisions. They are all going to need to cut back, and the plans for the summer now seem completely out of reach. So when Wendy is approached to tutor a popular girl but keep it secret it seems like the perfect solution to all her problems. She can make the money she needs for the trip to Alaska. Soon however she has a whole slew of girls she is helping with their papers. And when things come to the light, Wendy is thrown to the wolves by the popular girls. 

Wendy was just a girl with a dream trying to work hard and make it happen. But will she be able to prove that her help was just that, help and not work for pay. Will she be able to save face? Will she make it to Alaska? Read to find out!

This book was a great read. It did an excellent job of capturing High School life. And also family life when facing financial hardships. It has some twists that will catch most readers by surprise.  

I have a few criteria for how I judge books.  The first is could I see myself rereading it. Second can I think of people I would recommend it to right away. And finally would I want to see my children read it when it is age appropriate. This book scores very well in all three categories. It is a great read. And I hope we see more books in this series!
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Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2018 Catholic Reading Plan!







(Original cover and title of 8 Notes to a Nobody)