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Showing posts with label LesleaWahl. Show all posts
Showing posts with label LesleaWahl. Show all posts

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Top Ten Fiction and Non-Fiction Books First Quarter 2020

Top Ten Fiction and Non-Fiction Books First Quarter 2020

This quarter I have read 96 books, which was one more than Q4 2019. It was a good start to the year. And may excellent reads. Seventy-Seven of those books were first time reads. And 66 received 5/5 stars. Only 15 were fiction and 51 were non-fiction. And 8 of those had been read before. I am reading at the pace of about a book a day. 

Here is my top ten fiction and non-fiction books of the first quarter of 2020.

Top Ten Non-Fiction Books:
1. Books by J.B. Midgley
link to all review of books by Midgley
2. Consecration to St. Joseph - Donald H. Calloway
3. Spiritual Warfare and the Discernment of Spirits - Dan Burke
4.  From the Depths of Our Hearts: Priesthood, Celibacy and the Crisis of the Catholic Church - Pope Benedict XVI and Robert Cardinal Sarah
5. Epic Saints Wild, Wonderful, and Weird Stories of God's Heroes - Shaun McAfee
6. CTS Biographies
7. Lenten Journey with Mother Mary - Fr. Edward Looney
8. CTS Great Saints
Saint Ignatius of Loyola - J.A. Philips
9. The Passion of St. Edward, King and Martyr - Goscelin of Saint-Bertin and Eric Sammons
10. Way of the Cross or Stations of the Cross

Bonus:
In Conversation with God - Francis Fernandez
everyone's way of the cross - Clarance Enzler
Way of the Cross - Saint Josemaria Escriva
Sr. Elizabeth Prout - Sister Dominic Savio Hamer CP - CTS Saints of the Isles

Top Ten Fiction Books:
1. The Cassandra Curse - Fiorella De Maria
2. The Ghosts of Midgard Manor: And Other Stories - Roger Thomas
3. See No Evil - Fiorella De Maria - Father Gabriel Mystery Book 3
4. The Tattered Web - Roger Thomas - Watchful Sky Series Book 4
5. Stay With Me Series - Carolyn Astfalk
6. The Lucifer Ego - T.M. Doran - The Sequel to Toward the Gleam
7. A Channel of Your Peace - Veronica Smallhorn
8. A Conspiracy of Bones - Kathy Reichs - Temperance Brennan Book 19
9. Level 13 - Gordon Korman - Slacker Book 2
10. Dragon Assassin 7 Hidden Powers - Arthur Slade

Bonus:
Mystic Informant - Carissa Douglas - Douglings Adventures Book 1
Extreme Blindside - Leslea Wahl

My reading has been consistent at about a book a day over the last few years. I attribute part of it to Brandon Vogt’s course Read More Books Now, removing all games but 1 brain game from my devices. And I now commute to work on a bus and read on the bus every day. Though I am working from home now because of Covid-19 This quarter was 80% non-fiction. There are so many great series I am reading from the Catholic Truth Society, I have had to make an effort to actually fit in some fiction.

Note: I do not include books that have been read in previous years and were reread this year in my top ten lists, they are in the bonus section. It was no easy task making this quarter. But if you want more options check out my favorite books year by year list


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
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2016
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2016
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2016
Top Ten Non- Fiction Books 2016
Top Ten Fiction Books 2016
Top Ten Catholic Books
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2017
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2017
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2017
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2017
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2017
Top Ten Fiction Books 2017
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2018
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2018
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2018
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2018
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2018
Top Ten Fiction Books 2018
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2019
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2019
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2019
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2019
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2019
Top Ten Fiction Books 2019
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2020
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2020
... 

All Top Ten Lists on Book Reviews and More

Statistics Books Read By Year:

96 - 2019 January-March
392 - 2019
359 - 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




Tuesday, 25 February 2020

eXtreme Blindside - Leslea Wahl

eXtreme Blindside
Leslea Wahl
Pauline Books and Media
ISBN 
9780819824059
eISBN 9780819824066
ASIN B083ZFDW8F


This is the sixth volume written by or contributed to by Leslea Wahl that I have read. The Perfect Blindside, was the first book I read by Wahl and after reading it I picked up all the others that were then available. And I eagerly awaited this novel that continues the story. And the story was well worth the wait. This book is a good clean Christian young adult novel. But the story is so well written that even older readers should really enjoy it. It is part mystery and part romance. But the romance is about young people figuring out what God really want’s for them. 

As such the story revolves around mysterious events happening at an eXtreme games event in Colorado. But it also focuses on growing into who we want to be. Growth in maturity and responsibility. And about life in the limelight and under pressure and public scrutiny. The story also has some incredible scenery. From heliskiing in Europe to the events at the games in Colorado. 

Jack is taking part in an eXtreme Madness Games. In part as training for his role on the US Snowboarding team. And in part to help raise support for a new training facility. A facility that will not only cater to elite athletes but be fully integrated for Special Olympics, and athletes with all kinds of abilities. But something is going on at the games. Top athletes keep having things go wrong. From broken equipment to missing gear. Someone seems to be interfering with the events and putting people at risk. 

Jake Taylor is trying to walk a fine line between living his faith, and being a high profile name helping to raise funds for the new facility. His girlfriend, Sophie, is onside doing an internship for a magazine. And together they start looking into what is happening and why. But as with the last time, their investigations ends up putting both of them at grave danger. And They danger is not only from those trying to wreck the games, but from their own struggles with life in the media spotlight, and on both sides some jealousy. 

The story moves at a brisk pace. One of the greatest strengths is the characters. Wahl writes great characters. Both our heroes and also the villains. Another excellent part of the book is the representation of internal struggles. Both for what to do and for understanding what they want. Jake and Sophie are excellent role models and examples. And I hope that we get another story with them.

This book was a great read. I could hardly put it down. I have already asked my oldest daughter to read the story so we can use the discussion guide at the end. And I plan on reading it with my son later in the year. And with the discussion guide at the end great for families or youth groups to work through together. It is an excellent read.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2020 Catholic Reading Plan

Books by Leslea Wahl:
The Perfect Blindside
An Unexpected Role
Where You Lead
Unlikely Witness

eXtreme Blindside


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

Gifts Visible & Invisible 8 Christmas Stories for Teens
...





(Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: A Year of Reading Intention - Catholic Reading!)

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
...



Saturday, 27 October 2018

Unlikely Witnesses - Leslea Wahl

Unlikely Witnesses
Leslea Wahl
eLectio Publishing

eISBN 9781732903708
ASIN B07JDGBSPD


Sometimes great things come in small packages. That was my first thought upon finishing this novella. This story continues sometime after the short story that was part of the anthology Secrets: Visible & Invisible 7 Amazing Stories from Catholic Teen Books. That story combines the main characters from the novels The Perfect Blindside and An Unexpected Role. But this story is strong enough to be read on its own. It is a great story to be read as a stand alone, as an introduction to the characters from the other stories, or if you have already read the other novels. I loved not only the story but how it was told. 

The family vacation to a dude ranch in the Colorado Rockies, ends us throwing another mystery at the 4 teens. But first the story is told as FBI Agent Martinez is interviewing 4 teen witnesses. The story begins with these words:

“Sometimes fifteen minutes can make all the difference. Fifteen minutes later and he would’ve been gone for the day. A mere quarter of an hour…and this would’ve been someone else’s problem.”

But sometimes God has a plan even when we do not see it, and occasionally when we are trying to avoid it. Each of the four teens were witness to something, but at the beginning we do not know what. We have from The Perfect Blindside Jake and Sophie. And from An Unexpected Role we have Josie and Ryan. Martinez separates the witness into 4 interrogation rooms. He just wants to get their statements and get away for the weekend to his solitude at his cabin fishing. He begins by interviewing Josie DelRio, then he continues the story with Ryan, next is Sophie Metcalf. At that point it is getting late and he gathers the three he has interviewed with Jake to hear the end of the tale. 

It was really fun reading as each of the teens told part of the events of the last few days that lead to them being witnesses and giving their statements to the FBI. The story has the family fun of a vacation with three generations together. The continuing story of the two couples. The extreme competitiveness of Jake and Ryan, that seem to be able to turn anything into a competition. And the mystery, first a missing calf, and other missing items from farms and ranches around the one they are staying at. Seeing a guy who seems out of place in the woods. And spotting a campsite with 4 guys who appear to be up to something. An encounter with a pawn broker that does not seem completely forthcoming. And four young adults who are just trying to do the right thing.

It is a great read. It was hard to put down and we are left wanting more adventures with the young adults and their families. It is clean Christian fiction. With great characters, and a wonderful story, and format for delivering the story. Another great read by Leslea Wahl!

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

Books by Leslea Wahl:
The Perfect Blindside
An Unexpected Role
Where You Lead
Unlikely Witness

eXtreme Blindside


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

Gifts Visible & Invisible 8 Christmas Stories for Teens

...






Saturday, 29 September 2018

Top Ten Fiction and Non-Fiction Books Third Quarter 2018

Top Ten Fiction and Non-Fiction Books Third Quarter 2018

My total books this quarter is down a bit from last quarter, but my page count is actually up. Just variations in the length of material read. The Quarter by the numbers:

91 books read
59 received 5/5 stars
8 of those had been read before
48 were non-Fiction
11 were fiction

The Fiction was pretty easy to narrow down to a simple top ten list. The non-fiction on the other hand was a very, very, very difficult. But this is what I managed to come up with. 

Top Ten Non-Fiction Books:

1. The booklets by Helena Scott and Ethel Tolansky:
2. Encounter the Saints Series
3. How to Think Like Aquinas: The Sure Way to Perfect Your Mental Powers - Kevin Vost
4. Last of the Romantics: St. Josemaria in the Twenty-First Century
5. The Eight Doors of the Kingdom: Meditations on the Beatitudes - Jacques Philippe
6. Saxum: The Life of Alvaro del Portillo - John F. Coverdale
7. Catholic Truth Society booklets:
8. Footprints of the Northern Saints - Basil Cardinal Hume
9. A Soldier Surrenders: The Conversion of St. Camillus de Lellis - Susan Peek - God's Forgotten Friends Lives of Little-known Saints Book 2
10. The Cries of Jesus from the Cross: An Anthology - by Reverend Fulton J Sheen 

Bonus:
11. Foundations of the Faith: God, Christ, and the Church - Jeff Vehige - Find the Faith Book 1
12. Love's True Meaning: The message of Humanae Vitae 50 Years On - Fr. Anthony Doe
13. The Way of the Christian Samurai: Reflections for Servant-Warriors of Christ - Paul E. Nowak

Top Ten Fiction Books:

1. Roland West Outcast - Theresa Linden - A West Brothers Book
2. Down Time - Barry Lyga - An I Hunt Killers Prequel
3. We Are All Jacob's Children: A Tale of Hope, Wisdom, and Faith - Noah benShea
4. Dragon Assassin - Arthur Slade
5. The Story of Job - Regina Doman and Ben Hatke 
6. Where You Lead - Leslea Wahl 
7. Birthday Secrets - Corinna Turner - I Am Margaret Short Story
8. The Mystery at Midnight - Lisa M. Hendey and Jenn Bower - Chime Travelers Book 4
9. The Whisper in the Ruins - Lisa M. Hendey and Jenn Bower - Chime Travelers Book 3
10. In Front Of My House - Marianne Dubuc and Yvette Ghione

If you give some of these a try I am sure they will be with the read! But unfortunately, two of the fiction books have yet to be published. Number s 1 and 4 will be published later in the fall. I also had a conundrum about number 9 non-fiction and number 5 fiction. These could have been either fiction or non depending on your interpretation. But this is where the chips fell.

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
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2016
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2016
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2016
Top Ten Non- Fiction Books 2016
Top Ten Fiction Books 2016
Top Ten Catholic Books
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2017
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2017
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2017
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2017
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2017
Top Ten Fiction Books 2017
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2018
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2018
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2018
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2018 

All Top Ten Lists on Book Reviews and More

Statistics Books Read By Year:

284 - January to September 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, 17 September 2018

Where You Lead - Leslea Wahl

Where You Lead
Leslea Wahl
Vinspire
ISBN 9781732134867
eISBN 9780463200247
ASIN B07G8HVP3T



While I was reading this book I could hardly put it down. I was reading it on my commutes to work, and sharing about it with my oldest daughter when I got home. We have added it to her school reading list for this year, and if we were not in the middle of school books at the moment I would be rereading it again already with her. This book feels like a mash up of a female lead from Madeleine L'Engle crossed with Nancy Drew, and the movie National Treasure. As such though written for the young adult market but would be appealing and entertaining to anyone who likes that historical mystery type of story.

The story combines the historical elements, with mystery and action, but the key factor is underlying it all is faith. The two great strengths of the story are the ability by Wahl to weave a plot this is so gripping and entertaining and yet maintaining the believability factor. And Second the characters. I need to admit that the budding relationship element (romance) in the novel is not what attracts a middle aged man to the story. But it is done in such a way that at least for this reader the romance is secondary. The theme of trusting and following God's leading, even when you do not understand it. The main characters realization that the little things we do in faith matter as much as the big things God calls us to do. And the whole mystery of missing civil war gold.

The story begins with Eve waking up from a vision. It was more real than many of her memories. And inspired by it, she starts searching for the guy she sees in the vision, and works towards steering her family into a cross country move. Set in and around Washington, DC the book is full of significant sites, and reminder of the past, the history. Soon Nick and Eve are doing all they can to unravel a mystery and track clues that go back to the civil war.

The writing is tight. The characters very well developed. Once you start reading you will find it hard to put the book down. It is a gripping read and the tension really builds as the main characters find themselves threatened on more than one front. Even as a non-American the story is gripping it will draw you in and keep you riveted to the pages. This is a good clean Christian novel.

The novel is an excellent read, and could serve as the beginning of a series, but for that only time will tell. As mentioned written for a Young Adult audience, but great for anyone who enjoys a good mystery!

Books by Leslea Wahl:
The Perfect Blindside
An Unexpected Role
Where You Lead
Unlikely Witness

eXtreme Blindside


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
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