Book Review: Saint Magnus The Last Viking

Wow! Let me begin by putting to rest any notion that this,
being a historical novel, is bogged down with details and facts. The balance and delivery of fact and fiction is flawless. Saint Magnus The Last Viking brings Saint Magnus to life while delivering action-packed excitement and suspense galore!

From the beginning, I couldn’t put this book down. A ruler’s deathbed decree sets in motion a dire future for the heirs to the throne of the Orkney Islands. When Saint Magnus, a prince, clashes with his ruthless cousin Hakon, Hakon is banished. Brooding and bitter, Hakon plots revenge.

Magnus faces hardships that would drive a lesser man to despair. But the battles of good and evil ultimately chisel Magnus into a saint.

Full of twists and turns, Saint Magnus The Last Viking is sure to be read with bated breath. Teen boys will devour the action, adventure, and bravery. I’m sure many, many young women will enjoy this thrilling story as well. Adults, you too!

Note that there is violence and some blood, but a story like this could not be done justice without it. Violence is not used simply for shock value; it brings home the reality of what Magnus suffered and how his sainthood was truly merited.

At it’s core, Saint Magnus The Last Viking is a most intense story of moral courage and forgiveness against all odds.

Those who’ve never heard of this saint before will never forget him after reading this book. It’s an absolute must-read!

Saint Magnus The Last Viking is available in paperback.

Book Review: A Subtle Grace

There is plenty to love about this beautiful novel, including the graceful flow of the story,
the genuine characters, the description, the rich historical detail, the joyous moments, and the frightening ones.

A Subtle Grace by Ellen Gable is an inspirational historical romance, and more. It takes you on a genuine journey into the past, into the lives of the endearing O’Donovan Family. While the main story focuses on the oldest daughter, Kathleen, I enjoyed the intertwining, equally interesting, stories of the close-knit Catholic family and how they coped with life’s challenges: losses, tragedy, vocations, and temptations.

At 19 years old and living a privileged life in 1896 Philadelphia, Kathleen longs to be married and to begin a family before she reaches “old maid” status. She becomes fascinated by the attentions of a certain young man, but when her sparkling expectations for the future are savagely crushed, she has to learn to hope and love again. With time and trials, she matures into a selfless, instead of a somewhat self-absorbed, young woman. Even though she cannot fathom God’s plan for her life, she must trust in Him. Meanwhile, a lurking threat follows her like a dark shadow, marring her happiness.

A Subtle Grace is the sequel to the lovely book In Name Only, yet A Subtle Grace can be enjoyed independently. Of course, readers of the first book won’t want to miss this one! We get to see where life has taken Caroline and David and their family, and how the journey of life continues. The story kept me so interested that I hardly realized this was, in fact, a lengthy book.

A Subtle Grace is a novel to stir your heart, your emotions, and your soul. I highly recommend it!

A Subtle Grace is available as a Kindle ebook and will soon be available in paperback as well.

“Saint Magnus, The Last Viking” by Susan Peek

Check out this newly-released traditional Catholic novel by Susan Peek, popular author and home-schooling mother of eleven. For ages fifteen and up, this novel would be perfect for home-schooled teens!


Saint Magnus, The Last Viking by Susan Peek

Come back in time 900 years, to the fierce and desolate Northern lands, where Norsemen ruled with ax and sword. A dying king, a shocking death-wish, his heirs divided with an oath of blood . . .

At last, the long-awaited third book by the highly acclaimed Catholic novelist Susan Peek. In this new fast-paced novel, the premier in her series God’s Forgotten Friends, Mrs. Peek transports us back, as only she can, to a place and age all but lost in the mists of time.

The conflict unfolds between Magnus Erlendson, a heroic young prince aflame with the love of God, and his outlawed cousin Hakon, who blames Magnus for his banishment from their kingdom. What follows is a tale of betrayal and revenge, bravery and forgiveness, as Magnus seeks to restore his father’s vanquished kingdom to its rightful hands. Entertaining and inspiring from start-to-finish, a must-read for all those who thrill to learn the life of a saint we never knew existed!

“The author has an incredible insight and perception to what goes on within a young man’s mind. Written for boys in boys’ language: hard, fast and to the point. Magnus is vividly portrayed as a real boy with real blood in his veins. The book puts forth how courage, will and intelligence, joined together under the strong influence of grace and prayer, make a boy into a man and a man into a saint. Mrs. Peek certainly knows how to grab one’s attention and hold it captive! We’re looking forward to her next work.”
– A Benedictine Monk, Our Lady of Guadalupe Monastery

“Roses are Red, Diamonds are Blue” by Donna Alice Patton

From the clever title and stunning cover, to the well-written story, Roses are Red, Diamonds are Blue by Donna Alice Patton is a mystery suspense novel that delivers what it promises.

The novel has an engaging beginning with plenty of tension. A mere week before Christmas, Laura Barkley receives a desperate call from her husband, Peter, right before he dies tragically in the museum where he works. When the priceless blue Anastasia Diamond is revealed missing, suspicion falls on Peter—and thus Laura—adding to her burden as her life crumbles around her.

Eleven months later, Laura is doing her best to eke out a stable existence for herself and her little twin daughters, when the threats and fear begin anew. Whom should she trust and where should she go? And will she ever be able to decipher Peter’s final clue and find the Anastasia Diamond before it’s too late?

The mystery kept me reading, and the touches of romance added to the enjoyment of the layered story. Characters are rounded and real, and I truly felt for Laura and her girls and all the hardship they’ve endured. This is a novel that grabs at your emotions and a book that any lover of suspense could enjoy.

Many potential readers will also be happy to know that this is a clean read. The Catholic faith elements are minimal, but a very nice touch. Laura progresses from a lapsed Catholic who thinks she must rely on herself for everything, to realizing that, both humanly and spiritually, she can’t (and shouldn’t) always go it alone.

Roses are Red, Diamonds are Blue is set in the late 1970s, a time period that I don’t often come across in a novel, so I found it quite interesting as well as unique. The time period and setting always felt authentic to me, and I particularly enjoyed experiencing the Blizzard of ’78 in the climax.

Thank you, Ms. Patton, for a great story!

Roses are Red, Diamonds are Blue is available as a Kindle ebook.

“Finding Grace” by Laura H. Pearl

Laura H. Pearl’s first novel, Finding Grace, was a pure delight to read. The story is absorbing on so many levels.

The main character, Grace, is thirteen at the beginning of the book, but her story spans the years of 1972-1980 as she becomes a young woman in a world fraught with challenges. She strives to live as a good Catholic so that she may one day become a saint; but goodness doesn’t come easily, and as she struggles to live her faith, she encounters life in all its many facets of good and evil, joy and disappointments. Add to this the pain of falling deeply in love with a young man who sees her only as a friend, and I had to keep turning pages, staying up late, to find out how everything turns out.

The characters are fully developed, easy to relate to, and real. Grace’s relationships with her parents, her many brothers, and her friends, are genuine. Readers will become invested in Grace’s fate, and yearn for her to win her true love in the end. While this book is a wonderful coming-of-age story for teens, it is also great for adults looking for a romantic story that is deep and meaningful. Not a shallow romance, Finding Grace has all the hallmarks readers could want: romance, conflict, humor, life, love, laughter, and tears.

Parents can feel confident in buying this for their teens. Finding Grace is a moral read, without being bland or boring. The importance of family and faith is highlighted. Yes, there are lessons to be learned, but readers will be highly entertained along the way.

I laughed out loud. I shared in the heartaches as Grace learned who she is, and who she can be, with the grace of God. I really do miss the characters and I’m sad to be done with the novel, even though it has a beautiful ending! This is a book that I will definitely recommend to my own daughter someday.

Finding Grace is available in paperback and as a Kindle ebook.

Win a Catholic Suspense Novel!

Frozen Footprints, a new Catholic suspense thriller by Therese Heckenkamp, is tentatively scheduled to be released in early October 2012 by Tumblar House.

“Thou shalt not be afraid of the terror of the night.”

When a wealthy young man disappears and a ransom note shows up, his twin sister’s world is shattered. Fearing the worst, Charlene determines to find her brother before it’s too late. Her quest hurls her into a twisted, frigid world of icy terror. The twins struggle for survival while enduring fierce trials of mind, body, and spirit. Devoid of all worldly comfort and consolation, will faith and hope be enough to get them through this chilling nightmare?

Interested in reading this exciting new Catholic novel?

Enter here to win a FREE signed copy once the book is released.

(Please note that Frozen Footprints is a Catholic suspense novel for readers 16 and up and is not intended for young teens.)

Follow Frozen Footprints on Facebook!

Catholic-Fiction.com

We’re happy to announce the launch of Catholic-Fiction.com, a place for readers to enjoy a vast array of captivating Catholic fiction for all ages. You will find a large selection of genres to choose from, including mystery, classics, and romance.

Catholic-Fiction.com is also a great resource for Catholic fiction writers, as it includes advice and a list of Catholic publishers.

Let’s spread the word about Catholic fiction! Please take a moment to visit Catholic-Fiction.com, and be sure to visit often, as new titles will be added on a regular basis.

“Sons of Cain” by Val Bianco

Sons of Cain by Val Bianco
Published in 2011 by Lepanto Group, LLC

444 pages

Review of Sons of Cain:

Just looking at the cover of Sons of Cain will send a shiver through you. This novel by Val Bianco is a true Catholic thriller. A fascinating story of grand proportions, Sons of Cain wraps around your very mind, heart, and soul, and refuses to let go.

The prologue provides a stunning beginning—even more so because it is based in truth, on Pope Leo XIII’s frightening vision that occurred in 1884 . After reading this vivid prologue, you will forever have a devotion to Saint Michael, the warrior archangel.

Sons of Cain is a cleverly-written, well-plotted, solid story that deals with the battle between Good and Evil—but not merely as a vague, abstract concept. On the contrary, physical and spiritual battles erupt on very personal levels. Nick Rieper, ex Navy Seal with a tumultuous past, has formed a band of warriors, the Knights of Longinus, who dedicate themselves to fighting Satanism. Father Picora, who has risen above his own broken past, is Rieper’s confessor and friend. Together, these strong Catholics must stop the Cainites from destroying America, even if it costs them their lives.

Interestingly, while Sons of Cain is geared for male readers, I can attest that females will enjoy it, too. One of the main viewpoint characters, Robyn Alexander, is a beautiful, smart young woman who faces some mighty challenges. After circumstances bring her together with Father Picora, Reiper (whom she is attracted to), and the Knights of Longinus, Robyn will find her life forever altered.

While there are many characters in this book, they are all believable and intriguing. The author includes in-depth background, insight, and motivation. Thus the story has some slower parts, but these offer interesting and necessary information and are well countered by intensely gripping action scenes. The good characters are easy to empathize with, and they are not sugar-coated goody-goodies. And the bad characters? (Pause here to shiver!) The bad characters are terrifying. I must caution: Do not read this book when you are alone at night! Also, this is not a book for young readers or the faint of heart. Be aware that there is some foul language, due to the nature of the subject matter and some corrupt characters.

At the same time, Sons of Cain offers a wealth of traditional Catholic teaching without bogging the reader down with dry preaching. I loved that the scriptural references were taken from the Douay-Rheims Bible, something you rarely see in fiction these days.

Sons of Cain is shockingly pertinent to the times we live in, times filled with issues of abortion, euthanasia, same-sex marriage, government corruption, and other unspeakable evils. The strong sense of reality makes this book all the more frightening. It is chilling to realize that so much in the story is actually based in truth, and leaves you wondering . . .

After you finish reading, you must check out the “What’s real?” page on the author’s website. Still need more? Keep your eyes open for the sequel!

“Past Suspicion” Awarded Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval!

 

We are thrilled to announce that Past Suspicion (a novel about a head-strong Catholic teen on a quest to unravel the dangerous secrets of her mother’s past) has just received the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval!



Past Suspicion
$12.95 paperback
$2.99 Kindle Ebook


Reviews:

“Being home-schooled, Heckenkamp probably understands something about the brilliant recluse. It shows in her writing. Her heroine is sensitive, angry, hurt, intelligent, stubborn, curious, and has a large heart underneath all of her confusion. She is a typical seventeen year old. . . Heckenkamp captures the angst of those years beautifully. Her plot is solid, and is very movie or television friendly. . . lots of action; pathos; conflict; glamour; etc. It’s all there, and Heckenkamp is a confident and sure writer. She has no trouble keeping all of her balls in the air and resolving them at the end of this page-turner with a flair. Her denouement is terrifying, exciting, and then whoosh. . . she brings in the romantic element with panache.

Past Suspicion is a terrific first mystery/novel from a very promising talent. It is a particularly compelling achievement considering Ms. Heckenkamp has her future ahead of her. Bravo!”
– The Midwest Book Review

“Heckenkamp is a solid, engaging writer who has created well-developed characters and interesting plot lines. This is impressive considering that she began writing this novel as a teenager, finishing it by the time she was 22. Catholicism was skillfully woven into the story; it wasn’t preachy or over the top.

I highly recommend this novel to anyone looking for an interesting, engaging read with a cast of well-defined characters. I look forward to the author’s future novels!”
– Ellen Gable, author of Stealing Jenny, In Name Only, and Emily’s Hope.

“[Heckenkamp] has crafted a marvelous story with layers and depth. Her characters are richly drawn and intriguing. Past Suspicion is a page-turner, and Heckenkamp is an author to be reckoned with. I expect to see her work in the future and suspect that she has a long and successful career in front of her.”
– Nancy Mehl, best-selling Christian author.

“Past Suspicion is billed as a suspense for young adult readers, yet . . . would be welcome by older fans of thrillers as well . . . a remarkable debut.”
– Kathryn Lively, author of Saints Preserve Us: an Ash Lake Mystery and Dangerous Words.

“Past Suspicion is a riveting mystery that will keep readers turning pages. An outstanding effort by a first-time novelist!”
– Regina Doman, author of The Shadow of the Bear and other Catholic novels for teens.

“Past Suspicion is suitable for readers 12 and up and can hold the attention of readers through age 100. I found this novel refreshing and commend Ms. Heckenkamp for not sullying the story with profanity.”
– E. Dian Moore, Christian Freelance Writer and Editor.

“[Heckenkamp] captures the torn emotions of the main character and the rising sense of danger very adeptly.”
Margot Davidson, reviewer for love2learn.net

“Though the story evolves well and comes to a satisfying climax and conclusion, the real appeal of this book is the character study. The first person narrative is smooth and plausible. . . . Robin is bright, funny, sad, inquisitive and sometimes, scared, but above all, she is authentic. I highly recommend this book to readers of all ages. . . . Robin Finley is both likeable and complex and the story is creative and cohesive, but the writing itself. . . is outstanding! Good stories aren’t too hard to find, but a good writer, now that’s a treasure! I salute Ms. Heckenkamp and look forward to her next work.”
Val Bianco, author of Sons of Cain

“Death in the Choir” by Lorraine V. Murray


Death in the Choir by Lorraine V. Murray
Published in 2009 by Tumblar House

181 pages

Review of Death in the Choir:

Short and sweet (but not too sweet!) and seasoned with suspense—this is how I sum up Death in the Choir, a cozy mystery by Lorraine V. Murray.

Francesca, a lonely thirty-eight-year-old widow with no children, lives with a cat and a dreams of meeting someone special. For this purpose, she joins the choir at St. Rita’s Catholic Church. She encounters a few romantic possibilities, but when death strikes, her focus shifts to uncovering the truth. Was it suicide—or murder? Everyone seems to have a motive. Suspects include choir members, relations of the deceased, even Father John and a handsome police detective.

Featuring a tight plot sprinkled with clues and humor, Death in the Choir reads smoothly and enticingly. The characters are convincing and well-rounded. From Francesca lying on the floor doing stomach-flattening exercises (and being interrupted by the doorbell and frantically preparing to answer it), to her mentally justifying taking “just one more” donut or muffin, she is real, she is flawed, and she is lovable. She is someone you could imagine being friends with.

At 181 pages, Death in the Choir is just the right length for a rainy-day read; it has the perfect amount of everything (plot, description, characters, dialogue), without a clutter of excess.

I thought I’d figured out the mystery, but I was wrong. The story keeps you thinking and guessing—and that’s what you want in a mystery.

Death in the Choir is a satisfying and recommended read. And it is certainly refreshing to find a Catholic mystery geared for women readers! I’m looking forward to reading the sequel, Death of a Liturgist.