Category: Book Review

#ThrowbackThursday | My Hope Next Door by Tammy L Gray

It’s Throwback Thursday! Today I’m resharing my review of the RITA Award-winning novel, My Hope Next Door by Tammy L Gray. It’s the first of Tammy L Gray’s books I read, and she’s become one of my must-read authors.

Katie Stone escaped her home town of Fairfield four years ago and has felt guilty ever since. Now her dad needs help with her mother, so she’s home again. Reluctantly. Very reluctantly. But she’s changed: she’s no longer the drug addict who spends more time with her boyfriend than with her family. She’s become a Christian … as if anyone in Fairfield is going to believe that.

Once home, she finds her new next door neighbour is Asher Powell. Asher, pastor’s son and town good boy, the guy she teased for being so boring all through high school. And she finds her dad’s new best friend is her ex-boyfriend, the person she’s least in interested in spending time with. Oops.

Asher has his own issues with the church and mistakes and judgement. It’s not that he’s given up on God. Just the church his dad pastors, the church he’s attended all his life.

My Hope Next Door was one of the best Christian novels I’ve read this year. It had a clear Christian message—a message it delivers as much to the people in the church as outside:


Thanks to Waterfall Press and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About the Author

Author Photo Tammy L GrayTammy L. Gray lives in the Dallas area with her family, and they love all things Texas, even the erratic weather patterns. She writes modern Christian romance with true-to-life characters and culturally-relevant plot lines. She believes hope and healing can be found through high quality fiction that inspires and provokes change.

Tammy is often lauded for her unique writing style within the inspirational genre, preferring to use analogies verses heavy-handed spiritual content. Her characters are real, relatable and deep, earning her a 2017 RITA award nomination in the Romance with Religious and Spiritual Elements category.

When not chasing after her three amazing kids, Tammy can be spotted with her head in a book. Writing has given her a platform to combine her passion with her ministry.

Tammy L. Gray has lots of projects going on.

You can find Tammy Gray online at:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter | Goodreads

About My Hope Next Door

Can love grow in the shadow of a broken past?

Former bad girl Katie Stone can feel the weight of her reputation settle over her as she drives home for the first time in years. Feeling deeply guilty about her past mistakes, Katie wants to do the right thing for once. But the small town where she grew up is not nearly as forgiving as she’d hoped. Despite it all, she’s determined to help her parents cope with her mother’s recent illness, and Katie finds a surprise ally in the man next door.

Asher Powell never minded being the son of a small-town pastor until a recent breakup leaves him wounded by lifelong members of his church. He remembers his new neighbor as a mean-spirited high school troublemaker, but he senses that her newfound faith and desire for forgiveness are sincere.

Through an unexpected friendship, two people from different worlds find peace, hope, and a second chance they never dreamed was possible.

You can find My Hope Next Door online at:

Amazon | Goodreads

You can read the introduction to My Hope Next Door Below:

Click here to find My Hope Next Door and other great Christian fiction in my Amazon shop!

#ThrowbackThursday | With Every Breath by Elizabeth Camden

It’s Throwback Thursday! That means it’s time for me to revisit a review of an older book I enjoyed. Today I’m resharing my review of With Every Breath by Elizabeth Camden, one of my favourite Christian historical romance authors. I especially love the way she weaves real-life historical events into her stories.

Elizabeth Camden has done it again

Elizabeth Camden is fast becoming one of my favourite authors. She’s won well-deserved RITA and Christy awards with her previous novels, and she just keeps getting better.

Kate Norton lost her chance to go to college in 1879 when Trevor McDonough won the scholarship they were both competing for. She has worked as a statistician at the census bureau since then, but is now offered a new opportunity working for Dr T M Kendall at Washington Memorial Hospital, analysing data and predicting trends in health. She is shocked to find Dr Kendall is her high school nemesis, but soon finds there is more to him than she knew.

Trevor is attempting to find a cure for tuberculosis, an infectious and misunderstood disease.

He’s convinced that rest, good diet and sunshine are key, but a series of malicious newspaper articles bring the project under scrutiny, and he and Kate have to work together.

I thought everything about With Every Breath was excellent—the characters (especially the brilliant but socially awkward Trevor), the plot, and especially the writing, which was a masterful exercise in restraint in the way so much was happening beneath the text. With Every Breath is Christian fiction, although the faith elements are understated.

The information around tuberculosis gate a poignant and bittersweet note to With Every Breath, because I knew Dr Kendall wasn’t going to discover the cure. My great-grandfather, a postman, died of pulmonary tuberculosis and exhaustion on Christmas Day 1925, and Her Daughter’s Dream by Francine Rivers (and based on her family history) featured a character suffering from the disease in the early 1950’s. Reading this made me thankful for the men and women like Kate and Trevor who have dedicated their lives to finding cures for horrible diseases over the years. Recommended.

Thanks to Bethany House and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About Elizabeth Camden

Elizabeth Camden is a research librarian at a small college in central Florida. Her novels have won the coveted RITA and Christy Awards. She has published several articles for academic publications and is the author of four nonfiction history books. Her ongoing fascination with history and love of literature have led her to write inspirational fiction. Elizabeth lives with her husband near Orlando, Florida.

Find Elizabeth Camden online at:

Website | Facebook

About With Every Breath

In the shadow of the nation’s capital, Kate Livingston’s respectable life as a government worker is disrupted by an encounter with the insufferable Trevor McDonough, the one man she’d hoped never to see again. A Harvard-trained physician, Trevor never showed the tiniest flicker of interest in Kate, and business is the only reason he has sought her out now.

Despite her misgivings, Kate agrees to Trevor’s risky proposal to join him in his work to find a cure for tuberculosis. As Kate begins to unlock the mysteries of Trevor’s past, his hidden depths fascinate her. However, a shadowy enemy lies in wait and Trevor’s closely guarded secrets are darker than she ever suspected.

As revelations from the past threaten to destroy their careers, their dreams, and even their lives, Trevor and Kate find themselves in a painfully impossible situation. With everything to lose, they must find the strength to trust that hope and love can prevail over all.

Find With Every Breath online at:

Amazon US | Goodreads | Koboicon | Koorong

Read the introduction to With Every Breath below:

And click here to check out With Every Breath and other great Christian fiction in my Amazon shop.

Quote from Hidden Among the Stars: My story is the same as any other in that no one owns it except me. And it’s filled with threads of achievements and regrets.

#ThrowbackThursday | Hidden Among the Stars by Melanie Dobson

It’s Throwback Thursday! Today I’m resharing my review of Hidden Among the Stars by Melanie Dobson, a powerful dual timeline story—one of the best books I read in 2018.

The past story begins in Austria in 1938, just after Adolf Hitler has annexed the country.

Anyone who knows anything of twentieth century history suspects this isn’t going to end well. Max is the only son of a well-off Vienna banker. Luzi is the Jewish violinist he loves, and Annika is the daughter of a family servant … who loves Max.

The present story is that of Calisandra Anne Randall.

Callie is the half-owner of a children’s bookstore in small-town Ohio. The bookstore has been Callie’s refuge since she was a child. Now she’s making it a place where the next generation of children meet and come to love some of her favourite fictional characters.

Callie sells both new and secondhand books, and often finds things hidden in the books she sells. But Bambi is different. It’s not just the photograph hidden inside the book that captures her attention. It’s the German words written between the lines of the book. Callie’s attempts to find the story behind the book lead her to Austria and a mystery that’s almost eighty years old.

There were so many things that impressed me about Hidden in the Stars.

The way the two plot lines intertwined and intersected. The characters. The writing. The excellent historical research. The faith aspect. It all adds up to a lot more than the cover promised. And I was equally invested in the past and present stories, which is rare. (Yes, I’m one of those readers who usually wants to skip forward and read only half the story.)


The writing was excellent. My writer/editor self I was especially impressed by the way the author combined first person present tense for the contemporary story with third person past tense for the historical story. Mixing first and third person is not a technique for beginners. Mixing present and past tense is even more impressive. That Melanie Dobson managed to do both seamlessly is outstanding writing.

The historical research never overwhelmed the story. It was good to read a novel set in Austria rather than the more traditional Germany. And it was wonderful to read a story that didn’t have any obvious historical inaccuracies yet managed to share new information. (The author’s note at the end explained a couple of things I’d wondered about.)

I was also impressed by the way the Christian elements were woven into the plot.

The first half had very few religious references—Jewish or Christian. The second half brought out many truths about the nature of God, and the nature of good and evil. Unfortunately, World War II taught us a lot about evil … if we care to learn.

Recommended for fans of dual timeline stories with a hint of romance from authors like Kristy Cambron, Heidi Chiavaroli, and Cathy Gohlke.

Thanks to Tyndale House and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About Melanie Dobson

Author photo - Melanie DobsonWriting fiction is Melanie Dobson’s excuse to explore abandoned houses, travel to unique places, and spend hours reading old books and journals. The award-winning author of twenty novels, Melanie enjoys stitching together both time-slip and historical stories including Catching the Wind, Enchanted Isle, Beneath a Golden Veil, and the Legacy of Love novels.

Chateau of Secrets received a Carol Award for historical fiction, Catching the Wind’s audiobook won the 2018 Audie for Inspirational Novel, and The Black Cloister was ForeWord’s Book of the Year for Religious Fiction. Her next time-slip novel, Hidden Among the Stars, comes out in September.

Melanie and her husband, Jon, have two daughters. After moving numerous times with Jon’s work, the Dobson family has finally settled near Portland, Oregon, and they love to travel and hike in both the mountains and the cliffs above the Pacific. When Melanie isn’t writing, she enjoys exploring ghost towns and dusty back roads, dancing, and reading stories with her girls.

Find Melanie Dobson online at:

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest | Twitter

About Hidden Among the Stars

The year is 1938, and as Hitler’s troops sweep into Vienna, Austrian Max Dornbach promises to help his Jewish friends hide their most valuable possessions from the Nazis, smuggling them to his family’s summer estate near the picturesque village of Hallstatt. He enlists the help of Annika Knopf, his childhood friend and the caretaker’s daughter, who is eager to help the man she’s loved her entire life.

But when Max also brings Luzia Weiss, a young Jewish woman, to hide at the castle, it complicates Annika’s feelings and puts their entire plan—even their very lives—in jeopardy. Especially when the Nazis come to scour the estate and find both Luzia and the treasure gone.

Eighty years later, Callie Randall is mostly content with her quiet life, running a bookstore with her sister and reaching out into the world through her blog. Then she finds a cryptic list in an old edition of Bambithat connects her to Annika’s story . . . and maybe to the long-buried story of a dear friend. As she digs into the past, Callie must risk venturing outside the safe world she’s built for a chance at answers, adventure, and maybe even new love.

Find Hidden Among the Stars at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

Read the introduction to Hidden Among the Stars below:

Click here to check out Hidden Among the Stars and other great Christian fiction at  my Amazon shop.

What's the strangest destination you've ever travelled to in a book?

Bookish Question #123 | What’s the strangest destination you’ve ever travelled to in a book?

Armchair travel is one of the reasons I love reading.

My husband loves watching travel shows or actually traveling (well, I love actually traveling as well, but that costs a lot more money that armchair travel). In fact, we’re traveling this week, visiting the South Island.

And while I’ve travelled to some unusual and exotic foreign locations in my reading, most of them were just that: Exotic. Foreign. Foreign and exotic is different, but it’s not strange. And many of these foreign and exotic locations are places I’ve either visited (e.g. Israel) or would like to visit (e.g. Iceland).

Calling armchair travelers: What's the strangest destination you've ever travelled to in a book? Is that somewhere you'd like to visit in real life? #BookishQuestion #BookWorm Click To Tweet

Then I remembered Betrayed by Jeanette Windle. Windle is a brilliant writer who loves writing about unusual and exotic settings such as South America or the Middle East. But Betrayed had the strangest setting:

A rubbish dump in Guatemala City.

Here’s the book description:

Fires smolder endlessly below the dangerous surface of Guatemala City’s municipal dump. Deadlier fires seethe beneath the tenuous calm of a nation recovering from brutal civil war. Anthropologist Vicki Andrews is researching Guatemala’s “garbage people” when she stumbles across a human body. Curiosity turns to horror as she uncovers no stranger, but an American environmentalist—Vicki’s only sister, Holly.

With authorities dismissing the death as another street crime, Vicki begins tracing Holly’s last steps, a pilgrimage leading from slum squalor to the breathtaking and endangered cloud forests of the Sierra de las Minas Biosphere. But every unraveled thread raises more questions. What betrayal connects Holly’s murder, the recent massacre of a Mayan village, and the long-ago deaths of Vicki’s own parents?
Nor is Vicki the only one demanding answers. Before her search reaches its startling end, the conflagration has spilled across international borders to threaten an American administration and the current war on terror. With no one turning out to be who they’d seemed, who can Vicki trust and who should she fear?

Yes, that’s definitely the strangest—and most foreign—location I can think of. And one I have no desire to visit in real life. I’ll stick with my armchair travel, thank you.

What about you? What’s the strangest destination you’ve ever travelled to in a book?

I Always Cry at Weddings

Throwback Thursday | I Always Cry at Weddings by Sara Goff

Ava Larson is a lapsed Christian who’s about to marry her long-term boyfriend.

His family has planned what they hope will be the New York wedding of the year when she realises the relationship is over. That you can’t marry someone “for the guests and the gifts”. Or for his mother. But disestablishing an over-the-top wedding is expensive, and Ava is left with bills even her high-end fashion job can’t pay for.

Now alone, Ava has to decide what she wants out of life, which leads to her making new choices, some good and some bad. It’s an edgier plot—Ava hasn’t lived the perfect Christian life—but that’s what makes it real. She’s an excellent character because she doesn’t make all the best choices and she doesn’t know all the answers.

I Always Cry at Weddings isn’t “typical” Christian fiction.

There are no Amish, no almost-perfect characters, no people living in happy-happy land, and the only church is the home base of a soup kitchen ministering to Manhattan’s down-and-out, not more pot-luck dinner in a small-town family fellowship.

I Always Cry at Weddings isn’t “typical” Christian fiction. But it’s real. Excellent characters and a strong plot from an author who brings the location and the people alive. Recommended. #ChristianFiction #ChristianRomance Click To Tweet

But it’s real. Excellent characters with plenty of growth, a strong plot from an author who brings the location and the people alive, and an understated Christian message. Excellent reading, recommended for fans of Sally Bradley, Beth Moran and other authors of atypical Christian fiction. I’ll be watching for Sara’s next novel.

About Sara Goff

Sara GoffAuthor Sara Goff spent seven years as a New York City fashion designer and merchandiser before leaving her career to make a difference in the world. She founded the global educational charity Lift the Lid, Inc. in 2010, which supports underprivileged schools and encourages young people to exercise their creative expression through writing.

Sara attended Sewanee Writers’ Conference and received two fellowships to Summer Literary Seminars in St. Petersburg, Russia and Nairobi, Kenya. While living in Manhattan, she especially loved her work as a writing instructor for Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen Writers Workshop, founded by author Ian Frazier, and for The National Arts Club’s creative writing program for students. Sara is a public speaker and bipartisan contributor for Fox Business.

After seven years living in Stockholm, Sweden and then London, England, Sara is back in the States, enjoying the seasons in Connecticut, with her Swedish husband, their two sons, and sweet little girl…a Yorkie named Pia.

Find Sara Goff online at:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter

About I Always Cry at Weddings

Ava is ready to set Manhattan abuzz with her wedding. At least until she realizes her fiancé wants marriage for the wrong reasons, and maybe she does, too. In a move as daring as a red satin dress, she does the unthinkable–she calls it off, taking on more debt than she can afford and returning to the single life.

When Ava loses her job in fashion and her mom succumbs to cancer, she decides to revamp her life entirely, taking a vow of chastity and going for her dream of becoming a professional dancer.

Change brings trial and error, and she’s inching closer to financial ruin, but an undercover cop promises a new romance…and an unexpected friendship with the homeless guy beneath her stoop brightens her days.

When her carefully balanced life teeters out of control, weddings aren’t the only thing to make her cry. Ava has to figure out what life she really wants to live and what in the world love–unconditional love–means.

Find I Always Cry at Weddings online at:

Amazon | Goodreads

You can read the beginning of I Always Cry at Weddings below:

He waits, hidden in the shadows of the tall stately trees that line the street. He is the only one who knows that hell has just opened its door.

Book Review | Fire Storm (Kaely Quinn #2) by Nancy Mehl

Fire Storm is the second book in Nancy Mehl’s Kaely Quinn Profiler series.

Mind Games introduced us to Kaely Quinn, daughter of a notorious serial killer and now a talented FBI profiler specialising in profiling and catching serial killers. But she’s a damaged person, and most of her colleagues find it difficult to work with her and her unconventional methods.

In Fire Storm, Kaely’s mother is dying of cancer, and her brother has persuaded her to visit their mother in her new hometown of Darkwater, Nebraska. Kaely and her mother don’t have the best of relationships, as her mother basically checked out of motherhood when she found out her husband was a serial killer. In Marcie’s defence, I can’t say I’d be all rainbows and unicorns if I found I was married to a serial killer and had two children with him.

But Kaely hasn’t even arrived at Marcie’s house before she discovers all is not well in the town of Darkwater. There have been a few recent fires, which the fire chief says were caused by cheap space heaters. But Kaely immediately sees a pattern in the locations.

Kaely believes there is a serial arsonist at work.

It’s not a spoiler to say that the fire chief doesn’t believe her … and that the fire chief is wrong. Kaely’s challenge is to get the fire chief or police or FBI to believe her before there are more fires and more people die.

I have to say that the first chapter of Fire Storm isn’t gripping (although the Prologue certainly was). Chapter one has a lot of backstory, describing Kaely’s history and her personal problems. As such, those who haven’t read Mind Games will have no trouble picking up Fire Storm. (Those who have read Mind Games may well find themselves skimming this first chapter).

But the story soon picks up, and turns into a white-knuckle ride with lots of twists and turns.

There’s plenty of conflict in the arson story, and there’s also plenty of conflict at home. Kaely and her mother have never been close, which provides an added layer. And there’s the nice vet and volunteer fireman next door to consider.

I found Fire Storm a quick and fact-paced read, perfect for any time when you’re worried your nails might be getting too long. Recommended for fans of Carrie Stuart Parks, Terri Blackstock, and other Christian thriller authors.

Thanks to Bethany House Publishers and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About Nancy Mehl

Author photo: Nancy MehlNancy Mehl lives in Missouri, with her husband Norman, and her very active puggle, Watson. She’s authored thirty books and is currently at work on a new FBI suspense series for Bethany House Publishing.

All of Nancy’s novels have an added touch – something for your spirit as well as your soul. “I welcome the opportunity to share my faith through my writing,” Nancy says. “It’s a part of me and of everything I think or do. God is number one in my life. I wouldn’t be writing at all if I didn’t believe that this is what He’s called me to do. I hope everyone who reads my books will walk away with the most important message I can give them: God is good, and He loves you more than you can imagine. He has a good plan especially for your life, and there is nothing you can’t overcome with His help.”

You can find Nancy Mehl online at:

Website | Suspense Sisters | Facebook

About Fire Storm

When FBI profiler Kaely Quinn’s mother is diagnosed with cancer, Kaely takes time off work to go to Dark Water, Nebraska, to help her brother care for their mother. Upon her arrival, she learns of a series of fires in the small town, attributed by the fire chief to misuse of space heaters in the frigid winter. But Kaely is skeptical, and a search for a pattern in the locations of the fires bolsters her suspicions.

After yet another blaze devastates a local family, Kaely is certain a serial arsonist is on the loose. Calling upon her partner from St. Louis, Noah Hunter, and her brother’s firefighter neighbor who backs Kaely’s suspicions, Kaely and her team begin an investigation that swiftly leads them down a twisted path. When the truth is finally revealed, Kaely finds herself confronting a madman who is determined his last heinous act will be her death.

You can find Fire Storm online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

And don’t forget to click here to check out my Amazon shop for my top picks in Christian fiction!

Faith is a lot like love. It's a big, scary leap that requires you to hold nothing back, throw yourself off the precipice, and believe you'll be caught.

#ThrowbackThursday | One Thing I Know by Kara Isaac

Rachel Somers is the bestselling author of series of relationship books … except the whole of America thinks her aunt, Dr. Donna Sommerville, is the author. Now, lots of published books are actually written by ghostwriters, so that’s no big deal. But Rachel is more than the author. She’s also the voice behind a lot of the interviews.

Lucas Grant is the host of a late-night radio talkback show. It’s supposed to be a sports show, but people keep calling him about their relationship problems. He is not amused when the powers-that-be decide he should join forces with relationship guru Dr. Donna. On the plus side, it does bring him into contact with Dr. Donna’s attractive assistant, Rachel.

It’s a relationship built on half-truths between two people seeking fame and fortune for opposite reasons.

If you’re looking for a novel with a strong and overt faith thread, then One Thing I Know isn’t the novel for you. But if you’re looking for well-written fiction with a set-up ripe with misunderstanding and understated Christian themes, then One Thing I Know might be just what you’re looking for.

Thanks to Howard Books and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About Kara Isaac

Kara Isaac is a RITA® Award winning author who lives in Wellington, New Zealand where she writes contemporary romance with heart and humor. Her supportive husband has not read any of her books because they contain “way too much talking and not enough gunfights”. When she’s not chasing three little people or working her “real” job, she spends her time writing horribly bad first drafts and wishing you could get Double Stuf Oreos in New Zealand.

Find Kara Isaac online at:

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter


About One Thing I Know

She has the whole world fooled. But the one man who just may see through her holds not only the key to her success, but also her heart…

Rachel Somers is America’s #1 relationship coach—America just doesn’t know it. Rachel writes the books, but her Aunt Donna plays the face of the operation. Living in fear of their secret being exposed, Rachel has no choice but to keep up the charade or lose the big money required to care for her father. With the deadline for their next book closing in, Rachel finds herself out of inspiration and running out of time. The last thing she needs is her aunt and publicist concocting a harebrained scheme to join forces with some radio star in the hope it will help deliver the elusive next book idea.

Lucas Grant is a star of late night radio—though it’s come with an unexpected price of hoards of women who keep calling his sports show to ask him for relationship advice. They make his ratings look great, but they also mean he has to waste hours talking to people like Dr. Donna Somerville about feelings instead of his first love: football. When a big-time producer calls, it looks like his hard work is about to pay off. But the offer comes with a catch—the producer is convinced Dr. Donna is not what she seems and he wants Lucas to discover her secret. To do that, he needs to win over her tight-lipped assistant who holds the key to his success and—he begins to suspect—his heart. Can love find a way through the lies that force them apart?

You can find One Thing I Know online at:

Amazon US | Amazon AU | ChristianBook | Goodreads

Read the introduction to One Thing I Know here:

And click here to find One Thing I Know and other great Christian fiction in my Amazon store!

Bookish Question #121 | What’s your favourite point of view?

What’s your favourite point of view? First person, third person, or doesn’t point of view matter to you?

Let’s start with a couple of definitions:

First person point of view is when the story is narrated by the viewpoint character, and uses the “I” personal pronoun. For example, here’s the opening of Belinda Blake and the Snake in the Grass by Heather Day Gilbert:

"The first time I saw Stone Carrington the fifth, I had a snake wrapped around my neck."

We soon find out (if we hadn’t worked it out from the title) that our narrator (“I”) is pet sitter Belinda Blake.

Third person uses “she” and “he” (although there will be the occasional “I” in the dialogue). It’s much more common. Here’s an example from An Agent for Kitty by Nerys Leigh:

First Line from An Agent for Kitty: She'd lost her mind. That was the only explanation.

We soon find out that the narrator is Kitty Denton, who wants to become an agent with the Pinkerton National Detective Agency.

I know some publishers—and some readers—don’t like first person.

Personally, I love it. I love the sense of immediacy first person gives, the way it takes me straight into the mind of the main character.

Having said that, third person can do the same—if it’s done well.

Third person can range from a distant point of view to a very close (aka deep perspective) point of view. I’m a definite fan of close third person. It allows me to get inside the heads of the main characters (as in An Agent for Kitty), to see what they’re seeing and feel what they’re feeling.

What's your favourite point of view? First person, third person, or doesn't point of view matter to you? #ChristianFiction #BookishQuestion Click To Tweet

What I don’t like is badly written omniscient point of view. Done well (e.g. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), it’s fun. But for every Douglas Adams, there are dozens or hundreds of writers who are writing bad omniscient which reads more like third person with headhopping in every other paragraph.

So while I like third person, I love first person. What about you? What’s your favourite point of view? And why?

Feast for Thieves by Marcus Brotherton

#ThrowbackThursday | Feast for Thieves by Marcus Brotherton

I was hooked from the first page. And I don’t say that often.

Feast for Thieves begins with Crazy Ake and Rowdy Slater robbing the bank in the small town of Cut Eye, Texas, in the spring of 1946. It’s written in the first person, from Rowdy’s point of view, and right from that first line two things are evident.

Marcus Brotherton can write.

And Rowdy Slater isn’t your typical Christian fiction hero. After a near escape from death by drowning, Rowdy sees a vision …

I’ve read other books with fantastic opening hooks which simply fizzled out after that one fast-paced and original scene.

But Feast for Thieves just kept going. Rowdy decides to return the money, which causes the Sheriff of Cut Eye a few problems. Sure, it’s good that he solves the crime, but the expense of a trial is sure going to put a dent in the county budget, and his chances of re-election. And he’s got another problem: the town needs a preacher. So the Sheriff delivers Rowdy an ultimatum: spend a year as Cut Eye’s minister, or go to jail.

Rowdy knows nothing about God, preaching or running a church, but he knows enough about jail not to want to go back there. Besides, he’s got other problems, and he’s going to need a paying job to fix them. It’s an excellent plot, with lots of twists, yet all making perfect sense, and tied together with a cast of true characters.

Rowdy is an especially fascinating character.

He’s a likeable rogue, with a little too much rogue to make a good minister. But he has his own unique way of dealing with problems—serving in the Army during some of the toughest battles means he probably knows more about human nature than many preachers.

But what really made Feast for Thieves stand out from the opening line was the voice. Rowdy isn’t an educated man, and his language is earthy (but stops short of being vulgar). What makes him unique is his vocabulary and way of speaking—I could hear every word in that Texan accent, yet there wasn’t a single misspelled word to indicate accent.

There was an Author’s Note at the end in which Brotherton explained how he developed Rowdy’s voice, and it took extensive research and a deep knowledge of the time and place. It took a lot of effort to make Rowdy’s voice seem this easy and this authentic.

Writers, if you are ever looking for a way of expressing dialect without apostrophes and misspellings, read Feast for Thieves.

Men, if you’ve been bemoaning the fact that too many Christian novels are sappy romances (especially Amish romances!), read Feast for Thieves. While I’m not a betting man (well, I’m not a man at all, not that you could tell based on the spam email I receive), I’d say even your non-Christian friends would enjoy this one.

But it’s not all manly stuff.

There is a solid and real Christian message in here, and even whispers) a little romance. I can absolutely see why Feast for Thieves was nominated for a Christy Award. Recommended.

Thanks to River North fiction for providing a free ebook for review.

About Marcus Brotherton

“Highly recommended. A hard-edged and well-crafted novel with smart prose, confident plotting, and characters you feel you know.” –Michelle Burford, founding features editor of O, the Oprah Magazine, on “Feast For Thieves.”

Marcus BrothertonMarcus Brotherton is a New York Times bestselling author and collaborative writer known for his books with high-profile public figures, humanitarians, inspirational leaders, and military personnel.

He’s the recipient of a Christy Award for writing excellence, an Editor’s Choice distinction from the Historical Novel Society, and a Christopher Award for literature that “affirms the highest values of the human spirit.”

Marcus appeared in the World War II documentary ‘A Company of Heroes,’ shown on PBS stations nationwide and internationally.

This is Brotherton’s only novel, but he has an extensive nonfiction backlist including books about the Band of Brothers, and Grateful American with Gary Sinise.

Find Marcus Brotherton online at:

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter

About Feast for Thieves

Preaching or prison. An impossible choice for a man who usually solves his problems with a rifle or his fists.

Sergeant Rowdy Slater was the most incorrigible paratrooper in Dog Company during World War II. But after the war, when Rowdy robs a bank with the black-hearted Crazy Ake, he vows to turn his life around. The lawman, suspicious that Rowdy’s confession is a sham, gives him an ultimatum: Rowdy must serve for one year as the town minister, or go straight to jail. Rowdy’s choice? Preaching at the community church in Cut Eye, Texas, at the midpoint of nowhere and emptiness.

At first the job seemed easy, particularly since Rowdy took over for the willowy female missionary who held the church together while the men were at war. But when Crazy Ake shows up with a plan to make some quick cash, Rowdy becomes ensnared and is forced to make a deadly choice.

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Read the introduction to Feast for Thieves below:

When someone tells you a lie you want to believe, it is still a lie.

Book Review | West of Famous (Compass Crimes 3) by Joni M Fisher

Things go wrong when college student Martina Ramos takes a job as a body double for a famous teen singer while the singer goes to rehab. Instead of spending her time at film openings or in clubs, Martina is kidnapped. The first line takes us straight into the story:

Martina Ramos opened her eyes in hazy darkness on a cold floor that reeked of vomit and a chemical she couldn't identify.

West of Famous is the third book in a series, following South of Justice and North of the Killing Hand. I haven’t read the earlier books and West of Famous can definitely be read as a standalone novel. But it is obvious West of Famous is part of a series because the characters obviously know each other (and the reader knows them). This can be a little confusing at first, but does give the characters depth. It also means the author isn’t tempted to overshare their backstory, as often happens in first novels.

It does mean there are a lot of characters, and it takes a while to sort out some of the relationships. But that’s not entirely important: the essential part of the story is that Martina has been kidnapped by two men who think she’s a pop star, and who won’t hesitate to kill her if they find out she’s merely a graduate student at Oxford.

So the story has two parts:

Martina trying to stay safe on board the yacht she’d being held captive on, and Ruis’s efforts to find her before time runs out. The two parts meld together perfectly, giving us an action-packed story that never lets up on the tension.

The plotting is excellent, as are the characters and the way they work together to save Martina. The story is set in 2010, when social media wasn’t quite so prevalent as it is today, so it is believable that Martina is able to pass herself off as Ruby (especially as she’s surrounded by Ruby’s friends and boyfriend). There is another aspect of the plot that works better in 2010, but I won’t say what because #Spoilers.

I was also impressed by the faith elements.

Martina and her family are strong Catholics, and the importance of their faith comes through strongly. But it’s a realistic kind of faith, not something that feels like it’s been added for the sake of it (as often happens in inspirational/Christian fiction).

I very much enjoyed West of Famous, and recommend it to fans of thrillers from authors like Terri Blackstock and CC Warrens. I’m looking forward to reading the earlier books in the series.

Thanks to the author for providing a free ebook for review.

About Joni M Fisher

Joni M FisherAfter working decades in journalism, Joni M. Fisher turned to crime. Her Compass Crimes collection has garnered attention in Publisher’s Weekly and earned recognition in the 2017 National Indie Excellence Awards, the 2016 Royal Palm Literary Awards, and others. She serves on the Arts and Humanities Advisory Board for Southeastern University and is a member of the Florida Writers Association and Sisters in Crime. An instrument-rated private pilot, she’s also a contributing reporter for General Aviation News.

Find Joni M Fisher online at:

Website | Amazon | Goodreads

About West of Famous

This contemporary suspense story, set in Florida, features a strong female protagonist facing the issues of identity, mortality, and survival after kidnappers mistake her for a celebrity. The boating community known as Loopers play a key role in the story.

This is the third book in the Compass Crimes series, which is a collection of stories linked by an ensemble cast of characters. Each book can stand alone. Each book features a different heroine and a life-changing crime. The stories are linked by the alliances, friendships, and occupations of the characters common to the stories. While some of the stories contain a romantic subplot, some do not. In the aftermath of each crime, the relationships between these characters grow deeper and stronger.

You can find West of Famous online at:

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads | Kobo

You can read the introduction to West of Famous below: