Tag: Melissa Jagears

First Line Friday

First Line Friday | Week 67 | Romancing the Bride by Melissa Jagears

It’s First Line Friday! That means it’s time to pick up the nearest book and quote the first line. Today I’m sharing from Romancing the Bride by Melissa Jagears:

First line from Romancing the Bride by Melissa Jagears: Annie Gephart pressed her lips together to keep from begging Tom Passey—the greasiest, most foul-mouthed cowpuncher she'd ever met—to stay on.

What’s the book nearest you, and what’s the first line?

About Romancing the Bride

Marrying a stranger to save a ranch is one thing; losing the land on their wedding day is another.

Desperate to keep the ranch where three of her children and a husband lie buried, Annie Gephart must marry or sell. Which of the few bachelors in town would consider a surprise proposal to wed a plain widow with a rebellious daughter, a spirited boy, and unpaid taxes—without laughing in her face?

Jacob Hendrix has never fully let go of his ranching dreams despite ending up as a small Wyoming town’s marshal. The job wouldn’t be so bad, except he’s more errand boy than lawman. When Annie proposes marriage without a single coquettish bat of an eyelash, can he commit himself to a woman he hardly knows for a choice piece of property he’d be an idiot to pass up?

But taxes aren’t all that threaten Annie and Jacob’s plans. Cattle rustlers, crumbling friendships, and wayward children make this marriage of convenience anything but. When they lose what they’ve sacrificed everything to save, will the love of a stranger be enough?

You can find Romancing the Bride online at:

Amazon | Goodreads

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Share your first line in the comments, and happy reading!

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Quote from A Heart Most Certain: One day society will not condemn a man or woman for a past choice and instead discern and judge the heart.

#ThrowbackThursday | A Heart Most Certain by Melissa Jagears

It’s Throwback Thursday! Today I’m resharing my review of A Heart Most Certain by Melissa Jagears, first in the Teaville Moral Society series. Melissa has just released the first book in her new series, Romancing the Bride, and I’ll be highlighting that tomorrow in my First Line Friday post.

A Heart Most Certain shows Melissa Jagears to be a fresh voice in historical romance (even if the title does sound more Siri Mitchell).

Everything about A Heart Most Certain impressed me.

The writing was excellent, there was a clear and challenging Christian message, the plot was solid with plenty of twists and turns, and just enough predictability (hey, this is romance! There are some aspects we want to be predictable).

And both lead characters were excellent—an intelligent heroine who wasn’t afraid to ask hard questions, and a truly heroic hero (okay, he might have been a bit too perfect. But that’s the closest I can get to a criticism about A Heart Most Certain).

Lydia and Nicholas are both excellent characters—complete opposites, so of course we know they are both going to have to change their views. The setting was portrayed well, both in terms of time and place—and reinforced why I’m glad I live now, not then. It’s also an example of how historical fiction can shine a light into some of our more modern social problems. We can be thankful for the truth of Nicolas’s words in the quote above.

We might not treat “sinners” in the same judgmental way as Mrs Light’s Teaville Ladies Moral Society does, but we still have to guard against turning our faith into a religion of rules. Melissa Jagears is to be commended for not shying away from difficult subjects like prostitution, but showing a proper Christian response to the problem.

Recommended for fans of Francine Rivers, Karen Witemeyer, and Dawn Crandall.

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

About Melissa Jagears

Author Photo: Melissa JagearsI stay home with my kids, and though that’s PLENTY to do, I added homeschooling and writing to my schedule too!

My husband and I have been married since 2001 and have a daughter and two sons. I’m a former high school ESL teacher and an avid book reader. If you don’t believe me, come peruse the 16 bookshelves in my house. The only reason I don’t have more is because my husband is convinced he can hear the house’s foundation groaning.

He only claims one of those bookshelves which is full of how-to manuals because he loves blacksmithing, knife smithing, traditional archery, hunting, etc. Generally whatever a mountain man does, he’s done or wants to do. He and his one lonely bookshelf often come in handy for research.

My daughter is also an avid reader who owns the book shelf chair, is a lover of famous art, and wants to be a fashion designer. My middle son builds and creates all day long, his creations are mostly knives and swords since he wants to be a knifesmith like his daddy. And my youngest is the quietest of the bunch. At the moment, he self-identifies as a cat. A black one. He answers in meows.

A pronunciation lesson for the curious: Jagears sounds like /Jag – ers/, like Mick Jagger with an S.

You can find Melissa Jagears online at:

Website | Facebook | Pinterest | Twitter

About A Heart Most Certain

A Fresh Voice in Historical Romance!

Lydia King knows what it’s like to be in need, so when she joins the Teaville Moral Society, she genuinely hopes to help the town’s poor. But with her father’s debts increasing by the day and her mother growing sicker by the week, she wonders how long it will be until she ends up in the poor house herself. Her best chance at a financially secure future is to impress the politician courting her, and it certainly doesn’t hurt that the moral society’s president is her suitor’s mother. Her first task as a moral society member–to obtain a donation from Nicholas Lowe, the wealthiest man in town–should be easy . . . except he flat-out refuses.

Despite appearances, Nicholas wants to help others but prefers to do it his own way, keeping his charity private. When Lydia proves persistent, they agree to a bargain, though Nicholas has a few surprises up his sleeve. Neither foresee the harrowing complications that will arise from working together. When town secrets are brought to light, this unlikely pair must decide where their beliefs–and hearts–truly align.

You can find A Heart Most Certain online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

You can read the introduction to A Heart Most Certain below:

And click here to check out A Heart Most Certain and other great Christian fiction in my Amazon shop!

Quote from A Chance at Forever: The only tool she had was prayer, and if that was so, why didn't she use it more often?

Book Recommendation | A Chance at Forever by Melissa Jagears

A Chance at Forever is the third (and hopefully not last) novel in The Teaville Moral Society series.

It follows A Heart Most Certain and A Love So True. There have also been two novellas in the series, With This Ring (which I haven’t read), and Tied and True (which I have). But A Chance at Forever is a standalone novel, and you don’t need to have read the earlier books to enjoy this. (But you should read them anyway.)

It’s been six years since school bully George Firebrook left Teaville. Now he’s back in town as Aaron Firebrook, aspiring math teacher. But Mercy McClain is in the school board, the same Mercy McClain he teased mercilessly for having only one arm … and for always being happy in spite of her disability. That’s part of why he’s returned, to try and make up for the sins of his childhood. Now he has to convince people he has changed, and that’s going to start with Mercy.

Mercy McClain knows she’ll never marry and have children.

Her disability has seen to that. But she can still love the children in her care and make sure they aren’t bullied the way she was as a child. And she’s not convinced George Aaron Firebrook has changed from the bully she knew. She’s not pleased when he’s hired as the orphanage gardener. She’s gradually swayed by his work ethic and his obvious concern for the children, especially for Jimmy the troublemaker, and Owen.

Mercy is a great heroine. She’s got issues, but she’s also got a strong sense of self and she’s not willing to let anyone present the orphans with less than ideal role models. That places her in an awkward situation when she realises Aaron isn’t her biggest problem, and that speaking out might cost her.

Aaron is a strong hero. He was a bully as a schoolboy, but he’s a Christian now and trying to make amends. There are also reasons why he was a bully. This explains why he wants to make sure other Teaville children don’t face the same problems. So the job at the orphanage is perfect, even if Mercy would rather he wasn’t there. But the path of true love doesn’t run smooth, and first Aaron has to deal with bumps in the path like Owen and Jimmy.

I know I’m usually a contemporary Christian romance fan. But A Chance at Forever (and the other Teaville Moral Society stories) are the best kind of historical romance. I love the way the series uses historical settings to address some very modern issues. How do we, as Christians, deal with the less desireable members of society? The alcoholics, the drug addicts, the prostitutes, the homeless? How do we deal with that? Jagears has some ideas:

Quote from A Chance at Forever: Being moral isn't doing what's easiest or what makes you comfortable, but rather, it's choosing to do right even when it hurts, when it costs, when it's difficult.

She also isn’t afraid to identify the problem:

Quote from A Chance at Forever: The whole problem was sinful hearts, plain and simple. From the men who took advantage of the pleasures of the district, to the disdain and apathy of those who never stepped in to minister to those ensnared within it.

This is the problem highlighted by the #MeToo movement. It’s just framed a little differently.

See what I mean about historical fiction being an excellent vehicle for highlighting present-day problems?

As you’ve probably guessed, I thought everything about A Chance at Forever was outstanding—the plot, the characters, the writing, and the Christian message. Recommended for all Christian fiction readers.

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

About Melissa Jagears

Author Photo: Melissa JagearsI stay home with my kids, and though that’s PLENTY to do, I added homeschooling and writing to my schedule too!

My husband and I have been married since 2001 and have a daughter and two sons. I’m a former high school ESL teacher and an avid book reader. If you don’t believe me, come peruse the 16 bookshelves in my house. The only reason I don’t have more is because my husband is convinced he can hear the house’s foundation groaning.

He only claims one of those bookshelves which is full of how-to manuals because he loves blacksmithing, knife smithing, traditional archery, hunting, etc. Generally whatever a mountain man does, he’s done or wants to do. He and his one lonely bookshelf often come in handy for research.

My daughter is also an avid reader who owns the book shelf chair, is a lover of famous art, and wants to be a fashion designer. My middle son builds and creates all day long, his creations are mostly knives and swords since he wants to be a knifesmith like his daddy. And my youngest is the quietest of the bunch. At the moment, he self-identifies as a cat. A black one. He answers in meows.

A pronunciation lesson for the curious: Jagears sounds like /Jag – ers/, like Mick Jagger with an S.

You can find Melissa Jagears online at:

Website | Facebook | Pinterest | Twitter

About A Chance at Forever

In early 1900s Kansas, Mercy McClain, determined to protect Teaville’s children from the bullying she experienced as a child, finds fulfillment working at the local orphanage and serving on the school board. When Aaron Firebrook, the classmate who bothered her more than any other, petitions the board for a teaching position, she’s dead set against him getting the job.

Aaron knows he deserves every bit of Mercy’s mistrust, but he’s returned to his hometown a changed man and is seeking to earn forgiveness of those he wronged. He doesn’t expect Mercy to like him, but surely he can prove he now has the best interests of the children at heart.

Will resentment and old wounds hold them back, or can Mercy and Aaron put the past behind them in time to face the unexpected threats to everything they’re working for?

You can find A Chance at Forever online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

You can read the introduction to A Chance at Forever below:

New Releases in Christian Ficiton via ACFW Fiction Finder

New Releases in Christian Fiction | March 2018

It’s March, and here are the new releases from American Christian Fiction Writers. More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Contemporary Romance

Finally a Bride by Renee Andrews — Her dreams of love haven’t worked out, but veterinarian Haley Calhoun intends to grant an orphaned boy’s wish. She’ll heal Eli’s injured puppy—while resisting his charming counselor, Gavin Thomason, at the children’s home. Still mourning the loss of his wife and baby, Gavin believes he can’t commit again. But in losing their hearts to Eli, will Haley and Gavin discover they’ve found the family they need? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Love and Roses by Sally Bayless — Looking for a fresh start, former Manhattan lawyer Nate Redmond agrees to arrange the sale of the outdated Rose Park in small-town Missouri, not realizing it has deep sentimental value to his new neighbor, Abby Kincaid—a beautiful widow he’d like to impress. When their plans for the park clash, he learns he’s competing against the memory of her husband, a decorated war hero. With plenty of past mistakes hiding in the in the hedges, can Abby and Nate learn forgiveness and courage in time for love to grow? (Contemporary Romance from Kimberlin Belle Publishing)

Courting Her Amish Heart by Mary Davis — In this first book of the Prodigal Daughters series, Kathleen Yoder comes home after fourteen years in the Englisher world. Practicing medicine means sacrifice—no Amish man will want a doctor for a wife. Widowed Noah Lambright offers a cottage as her new clinic, seeing how much Kathleen’s skills can help their community. But as their friendship deepens, could love and family become more than a forbidden dream? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

The Amish Nanny’s Sweetheart by Jan Drexler — As nanny for her nephew, Judith Lapp is finally part of a vibrant, joyful Amish community instead of living on the outskirts looking in. But teaching her neighbors’ Englischer farm worker to read Pennsylvania Dutch wasn’t part of her plan. And the more time she spends with Guy Hoover, the more he sparks longings for a home and family of Judith’s own. Guy figured he would never be truly accepted by his Amish employers’ community – even though the Mast family treats him like a son. But Judith’s steadfast caring shows him that true belonging could be within his reach…if he and Judith can reconcile their very different hopes – and hearts. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

The Reluctant Groom by Kimberly Rose Johnson — When Ray O’Brien’s world is turned upside down, Katie Fairchild wants to help, but the personal cost is high. Neither desires a marriage of convenience, but when Katie blurts the first thing that comes to her mind Ray can’t dismiss her offer of marriage. It would solve all his problems except for one thing—they aren’t in love. Can these two friends team up for the greater good and perhaps find love along the way, or are their expectations impossible? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Anna’s Forgotten Fiance by Carrie Lighte — An accident leaves Anna Weaver with no memory of her Amish hometown’s newest arrival—her fiancé! After a whirlwind courtship, their wedding’s in six weeks…but how can she marry a man she can’t remember? Carpenter Fletcher Chupp takes her on a walk down memory lane, but there’s one thing he wants to keep hidden: a secret that might just lose him the woman he loves. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Grace Restored by Toni Shiloh — Michelle Thomas has it all. Beautiful and successful, she’s just opened her own law firm in Freedom Lake. What more could she want? When her old flame rolls back into Freedom Lake, she’s intent on ignoring him. But how can she give the widower and his precious twin girls the cold shoulder?

Still reeling from the death of his wife, Guy Pierre returns to Freedom Lake to take over as town sheriff and raise his twin daughters. Alone. Yet, life keeps throwing Michelle in his path and sparks of interest began to rise. Will old secrets tear them apart again or can they find the faith to let God’s grace restore what has been broken? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

This is on my to-read-and-review pile, and I also have an interview with the author coming up. What would you like to ask Toni Shiloh?

General & Women’s Fiction

Justice by Emily Conrad — Jake thought he was meant to marry Brooklyn, but now she’s pregnant, and he had nothing to do with it. Brooklyn can’t bring herself to name the father as she wrestles with questions about what her pregnancy means and how it will affect her relationship with Jake. If Harold Keen, the man who owns the bookstore across from Jake’s coffee shop, has anything to do with it, the baby will ruin them both. (General from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])

The Heart Between Us by Lindsay Harrel — When her heart donor’s parents give Megan Jacobs their teenage daughter’s journal—complete with an unfulfilled bucket list—Megan connects with the girl she meets between the pages and is inspired to venture out and check off each item. (General from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

I’ve already read this—my review will post next week. It’s excellent!

Sweet Meets by Deborah Raney — From short stories to novellas, from contemporary to historical, all of award-winning author Deborah Raney’s short works have been gathered into one great collection for one low price.

Includes the following novellas and short stories: Going Once, Special Delivery, Haiti’s Song, Prairie Lessons, Finally Home, Circle of Blessings. (Women’s Fiction from Raney Day Press)

Historical Romance

Seven Brides for Seven Texas Ranchers Romance Collection by Amanda Barratt, Susan Page Davis, Vickie McDonough, Gabrielle Meyer, Lorna Seilstad, Erica Vetsch, and Kathleen Y’Barbo — Join seven Texas Rangers on the hunt for a menacing gang, who run straight into romances with women who foil their plans for both the job and their futures. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

A Chance at Forever by Melissa Jagears — In early 1900s Kansas, Mercy McClain serves on the schoolboard, determined to protect Teaville’s children from the bullying she experienced as a child. When Aaron Firebrook, the classmate who bothered her more than any other, petitions the board for a teaching position, she’s dead set against him getting the job. Aaron has returned to his hometown a changed man and is seeking to earn forgiveness of those he wronged. He sets out to prove to Mercy he now has the best interests of the children at heart. Will resentment and old wounds hold them back, or can Mercy and Aaron put the past behind them in time to face the unexpected threats to everything they’re working for? (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

I love the Teaville Moral Society books, and I’m looking forward to reading A Chance at Forever.

Ain’t Misbehavin’ by Jennifer Lamont Leo — In Jazz Age Chicago, Dot Rodgers sells hats at Marshall Field while struggling to get her singing career off the ground. Independent and feisty, she’s the life of the party. But underneath the glitter, she doesn’t believe she’s worth the love of a good man. Small-town businessman Charlie Corrigan carries scars from the Great War. After all he’s been through, he wants nothing more than to marry and start a family. But the woman he loves is a flamboyant flapper, used to a more glamorous life than he can offer. As his fortunes climb with the stock market, it seems he’s finally going to win her love. But what happens when it all comes crashing down? (Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

A Most Noble Heir by Susan Anne Mason — A young man suddenly thrust into nobility is torn between the servant girl he hopes to marry and the father he’s always longed for. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

Safe Refuge by Pamela S. Meyers — Wealthy Chicagoan, Anna Hartwell, is about to wed a man she loathes. The Great Chicago Fire erupts, postponing the wedding. After escaping to Wisconsin with her family she realizes she loves Irish immigrant, Rory Quinn, and prepares to break the wedding plans, which are still on. Then she learns a dark family secret that changes her life forever. (Historical Romance from Mantle Rock Publishing)

Husband by Arrangement by Angel Moore — Abandoned by her secret fiancé, the mayor’s pregnant daughter marries the sheriff. Can she overcome her past and help him save the town from corruption? (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Beneath A Prairie Moon by Kim Vogel Sawyer — Abigail Brantley grew up in affluence, but when she is cast from the social registers due to her father’s illegal dealings, she finds herself forced into a role she never imagined: tutoring rough Kansas ranchers in manners and morals so they can “marry up” with their mail-order brides. Mack Cleveland, whose father was swindled by a mail-order bride, wants no part of the scheme to bring Eastern women to Spiveyville, Kansas, and he’s put off by the snooty airs of the “little city gal” in their midst. But as time goes by, his heart goes out to the teacher who tries so diligently to smooth the rough edges from the grooms-to-be. How can he teach her that perfection won’t bring happiness? (Historical Romance from Waterbrook/Multnomah [Random House])

This sounds excellent! Another for the to-read pile …

Romantic Suspense

Beneath the Surface by Lynn H. Blackburn — After a harrowing experience with an obsessed patient, oncology nurse practitioner Leigh Weston moves home to Carrington, North Carolina to leave behind her troubled past. But when someone tampers with her brakes, she fears the past has chased her into the present. Leigh reaches out for help from her high school friend and volunteer underwater investigator, Ryan Parker. But when Ryan finds the body of a wealthy businessman in Lake Porter, the investigation uncovers a possible serial killer—one with a terrifying connection to Leigh and deadly implications for them all. (Romantic Suspense from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing)

Secret Service Setup by Jessica R. Patch — Secret Service agent Evan Novak becomes the target of multiple hit men when someone puts a two-million-dollar bounty on his head. Is it the gunrunner he’s tracking…or a traitorous agent? Framed and wanted, Evan reluctantly accepts protection from bodyguard Jody Gallagher, his former love who lost her Agency career because of him. But then the bounty is raised to include Jody… (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Fugitive Spy by Jordyn Redwood — A spy with amnesia—and a mission he can’t remember. When Casper English lands in her ER with amnesia, Dr. Ashley Drager learns he has a picture of her…and the same tattoo as her long-missing father. With a dangerous man after Casper, and his memories possibly holding the key to finding Ashley’s father, she secretly whisks him away from the hospital. But can she keep him alive long enough to help him regain his memories? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

What are you planning to read this month?

Book Recommendations May 2017

Book Recommendations: May 2017

Thes best books I read and reviewed in May 2017. This was a good month!

The Long Highway Home by Elizabeth Musser

The Long Highway Home is a unique combination of fact and fiction. Elizabeth Musser draws on her own missionary experiences working with refugees to deliver a story that hits home in terms of the trials refugees find in pursuing safety.

Click here to read my review.

Click here to find out more about Elizabeth Musser.

Read more

My Top 10 Christian Novels of 2016

I’ve missed a few of my monthly book recommendation posts, so I’m going to catch up over the next few weeks. This week I’m covering the top 10 Christian novels I read last year, in a post originally published at Australasian Christian Writers in December 2016.

How many of my Top 10 Christian novels have you read? What did you think?

Every year I write a post of the top ten novels I read, and every year I struggle. How to condense a year of reading into just ten books? In 2016, I decided the only way I could do it was to stick to novels published in 2016—cutting non-fiction and novellas.

So here are my Top Ten Christian Novels published in 2016 (in alphabetical order. It was enough trouble to narrow them down to ten without having to rank them!):

Since You’ve Been Gone by Christa Allan

Since You’ve Been Gone starts with a twist on a cliché: a groom who doesn’t show up to the wedding, and a bride-to-be who is left to work out why. The obvious is soon discovered (he’s dead in a car wreck), but that doesn’t answer the important questions … Click here to read my review.

Waves of Mercy by Lynn Austin

An excellent dual timeline story from Lynn Austin, showing the difficulties faced by early American settlers, and their determination to succeed. And their faith. Click here to read my review.

The Cautious Maiden by Dawn Crandall

This is the fourth novel in The Everstone Chronicles, and it’s as good as the rest. Don’t worry—you don’t have to read them all. But you’ll want to. Excellent historical romantic suspense. Click here to read my review.

Quote from Waves of Mercy by Lynn Austin

Intermission by Serena Chase

Intermission isn’t Serena Chase’s first novel, but it’s the first one I’ve read—an excellent Young Adult novel with some valuable lessons about God and obedience. Click here to read my review.

Can’t Help Falling by Kara Isaac

Kiwi author Kara Isaac has actually released two books this year: Close to You, and Can’t Help Falling. While I’ve read and enjoyed both, Can’t Help Falling is definitely my favourite. Click here to read my review.

A Heart Most Certain by Melissa Jagears

A Heart Most Certain looks like a typical romance novel set in the American West in the late 1900’s—a sweet romance between two almost-perfect characters. Bland, predictable. But it’s anything but, and that’s what makes it so good. Click here to read my review.

No One’s Bride by Nerys Leigh

I love a good mail order bride story, and this one was excellent. Even better, it’s the start of a series and I’m already holding the date to review book two. Click here to read my review.

The Thirteenth Chance by Amy Matayo

Everyone has been telling me I need to read Amy Matayo’s work. I finally did, and everyone was right. She’s brilliant—real characters with real strengths and failings. I’ll certainly be reading more. Click here to read my review.

The Long Journey to Jake Palmer by James L Rubart

No, I didn’t include this simply to include a token male author (although I do read a lot more female authors than male). James L Rubart is an excellent writer of almost-speculative fiction. I say ‘almost’ because we serve a God of miracles, so who is to say these things couldn’t happen? Click here to read my review.

On the Edge by Theresa L Santy

On the Edge won the FaithWriters 2013 Page Turner Contest … and it certainly was a page turner. I’ll be watching for more from this debut author. Click here to read my review.

Although my choices are a mix of contemporary and historical, American authors and authors from England and New Zealand, they all have one thing in common. No, they’re not all romance novels (although yes, most are).

No, the one thing they all have in common is flawed characters doing their best to become better people.

Just like we all do in real life.

What Did You Read in August 2016?

Well, the writing hasn’t gone so well in August 2016 in terms of word count, but I’ve attended the fantastic Romance Writers of New Zealand Conference, and read some outstanding novels:

Book Cover Images

The best books I read in August 2016 were:

When Death Draws Near, the third in the Gwen Marcy thriller series from Carrie Stuart Parks (you can read my review here)

Glasgow Grace by Marion Ueckermann, a short fun romance read (you can read my review here)

A Heart Most Certain by Melissa Jagears, a historical romance with a difference (you can read my review here)

The Long Journey to Jake Palmer by award-winning author James L Rubart. It’s mind-bending and thought-provoking (you can read my review here)

 

What’s the best book you read this month? And what are you planning to read next month?