Tag: Thomas Nelson

First Line Friday

First Line Friday | Week 99 | The Secret to Hummingbird Cake

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 The Secret to Hummingbird Cake by Celeste Fletcher McHale. It got a few critical reviews for not being “Christian” enough … which got me wondering why! Here’s the first line:

I glanced at the grandfather clock. Almost midnight.

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

About The Secret to Hummingbird Cake

“Why won’t you just tell me what’s in that cake?” I’d been trying to get Laine’s recipe for years. We all had.

When all else fails, turn to the divine taste of hummingbird cake.

In the South you always say “yes, ma’am” and “no, ma’am.” You know everybody’s business. Football is a lifestyle not a pastime. Food—especially dessert— is almost a religious experience. And you protect your friends as fiercely as you protect your family— even if the threat is something you cannot see.

In this spot-on Southern novel brimming with wit and authenticity, you’ll laugh alongside lifelong friends, navigate the sometimes rocky path of marriage, and roll through the outrageous curveballs that life sometimes throws . . . from devastating pain to absolute joy. And if you’re lucky, you just may discover the secret to hummingbird cake along the way.

You can find The Secret to Hummingbird Cake online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

Click the button to check out what my fabulous fellow FirstLineFriday bloggers are sharing today:

You can then click the link which will take you to the master page of all this week’s #FirstLineFriday posts.

And you can click here to check out my previous FirstLineFriday posts.

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

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

Over the Line by Kelly Irvin

Book Review | Over the Line by Kelly Irvin

I really enjoyed Tell Her No Lies, Kelly Irvin’s first foray out of Amish into romantic suspense.

Over the Line? Not so much. The writing was excellent. There was an action-filled plot with plenty of suspense. There were two romances (although I was more interested in the secondary romance than the primary romance).

One of my problems was the sheer number of characters. There were a lot, and I found that confusing at times. But my main problem was the political focus. I don’t mind Christian fiction that debates current issues, but I want Christian fiction to focus on universal issues, not US-centric issues like gun control. It’s a deeply divisive political football, and I see nothing in the debate (from either side) that brings people closer to God—surely the purpose of Christian fiction.

But let’s get back to the actual story and the actual characters.

It was apparent early on that Gabriella and Eli had broken up because Gabriella thought she’d caught Eli being unfaithful. It was equally apparent that this is one of those conflicts that could have been solved in half a paragraph if Gabriella had been adult enough to listen to Eli’s explanation. In this, she behaved more like a rebellious Amish teenager than successful attorney-turned-chef.

Perhaps that’s what made the conflict so annoying: as an attorney, Gabriella was trained to consider both sides of an argument. Yet she didn’t.

Eli wasn’t any better. He was an odd mix of get-in-there-and-shoot-the-baddies and too-scared-to-confront-his-girlfriend. It was as though he was simply there to be Gabriella’s love interest … That’s why I found the secondary romance more interesting.

On the other hand, Natalie and Deacon were excellent characters. I would have liked to have seen more of them and to see their developing relationship. It has challenges, to be sure (as Natalie is a widowed paraplegic with two children), but I’d like to see how a couple overcomes those challenges.

I found the actual suspense side of the plot confusing, and I found it hard to divorce the plot from the wider politics of the situation. That affected my enjoyment. However, I’m sure Americans who live in border states will have a different view.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About Kelly Irvin

Author Photo: Kelly IrvinKelly Irvin is the bestselling author of the Every Amish Season and Amish of Bee County series. The Beekeeper’s Son received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly, who called it a “beautifully woven masterpiece.” The two-time Carol Award finalist is a  former newspaper reporter and retired public relations professional. Kelly lives in Texas with her husband, photographer Tim Irvin. They have two children, two grandchildren, and two cats. In her spare time, she likes to read books by her favorite authors.

Find Kelly Irvin online at:

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About Over the Line

“You have something we want. We have something you want.”

Gabriella has never forgiven her former fiancé, homicide detective Eli Cavazos, for breaking her heart. Then a man she’s never met shows up at her restaurant, a bullet in his chest and her brother’s name on his lips. Gabby soon realizes this man is connected to a powerful ring of criminals who know far too much about her.

Against her better judgment, Gabby turns to Eli for help in finding her brother. When she receives a cryptic text from her brother’s cell phone, she realizes she is in deep and may be dragging Eli down with her. With her brother nowhere to be found and pain from her past threatening to overwhelm her, Gabby wonders how she will make it through this unexpected quest unscathed—or alive.

Taking us into the heat of Laredo, Texas, the secrets of a gun-smuggling ring, and the tensions on both sides of the border, Over the Line will keep you guessing until the last page.

Find Over the Line online at:

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Quote from Send Down the Rain by Charles Martin

#ThrowbackThursday | Send Down the Rain by Charles Martin

It’s Throwback Thursday! Today I’m resharing my review of Send Down the Rain by Charles Martin. He’s one of my favourite male Christian fiction authors, with a real strength in structuring stories so I can’t predict what’s going to happen.

About Send Down the Rain

Allie is still recovering from the loss of her family’s beloved waterfront restaurant on Florida’s Gulf Coast when she loses her second husband to a terrifying highway accident. Devastated and losing hope, she shudders to contemplate the future—until a cherished person from her past returns.

Joseph has been adrift for many years, wounded in both body and spirit and unable to come to terms with the trauma of his Vietnam War experiences. Just as he resolves to abandon his search for peace and live alone at a remote cabin in the Carolina mountains, he discovers a mother and her two small children lost in the forest. A man of character and strength, he instinctively steps in to help them get back to their home in Florida. There he will return to his own hometown—and witness the accident that launches a bittersweet reunion with his childhood sweetheart, Allie.

When Joseph offers to help Allie rebuild her restaurant, it seems the flame may reignite—until a 45-year-old secret from the past begins to emerge, threatening to destroy all hope for their second chance at love.

In Send Down the Rain, Charles Martin proves himself to be a storyteller of great wisdom and compassion who bears witness to the dreams we cherish, the struggles we face, and the courage we must summon when life seems to threaten what we hold most dear.

Send Down the Rain is an unusual story in many ways.

It starts decades ago with two brothers the day their father moves out, then jumps forward to the present. The first part shows three different characters, and it wasn’t until about a quarter of the way through that it became clear who the main character was.

Joseph is a 63-year-old Vietnam war veteran who has been running for more years than seems possible. We get to know him only gradually, as the story bounces back and forth between his past and his present, highlighting his failures (and sometimes his successes), his weaknesses and sometimes his strengths. He’s a strong narrator because he is weak: he’s humble and unpretentious and focuses more on what he’s done wrong than what he’s done right.

I got to about the 90% point in this book and thought it was good, but it hadn’t reached the heights of The Mountain Between Us (now a major movie starring Kate Winslet and Idris Elba) or Long Way Gone (a modern retelling of the story of the Prodigal Son).

But by the time I finished Send Down the Rain I had changed my mind.

It’s at least as good as these, but the power builds up and up and only bites at the end. There isn’t an obvious Christian thread or an overt parallel with a Bible story (as there was in Long Way Gone). Send Down the Rain is more of an exploration of love, loyalty, and family, a story of sacrifice and second chances. And that pretty much sums up the gospel.

An outstanding novel of love and faithfulness, in Martin’s trademark understated yet compelling style. Recommended.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About Charles Martin

Author Photo: Charles MartinChristy and I married in 1993. If you include dating, I’ve known and loved her for more than half my life. She is and always will be the home for my heart. We have three boys. Charlie, John T. and Rives. Folks often ask me, which of my books do I like the best. You might as well line up my sons and ask me who I love the most.

My hobbies are bow hunting, working out (a blend of old school stuff and martial arts, called Fight Fit) and Tae Kwon Do. In October 2012 I earned my black belt but I’m still the least flexible person you’ve ever met. The guy that trains me, laughs everytime I start warming up. My boys are far better at Tae Kwon Do than I but I doubt they have as much fun – I get to do and watch. They just do.

I also like to write, but that’s another story.

You can find Charles Martin online at:

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You can find Send Down the Rain online at:

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You can read the introduction to Send Down the Rain below:

Quote from The Secrets of Paper and Ink: This girl had a story worth telling—and so did Sophia. It was worth telling. It was.

Book Review | The Secrets of Paper and Ink by Lindsay Harrel

The Secrets of Paper and Ink is the story of three women: Sophia Barrett, a women’s counselor from Phoenix, Arizona; Ginny Rose, bookshop owner from Port Willis, Cornwall; and Emily Fairfax, governess and lady’s companion in Victorian England.

Sophia returns to work after a three-month enforced sabbatical following a mental breakdown—the result of her conflicted feelings over the death of her fiance a year ago … her abusive fiance. She lasts less than an hour before her past intrudes again and she runs away. This time she makes a spur-of-the-moment decision to visit Cornwall, once home to her favourite dead novelist.

Owning a bookshop in a remote Cornish village isn’t Ginny’s dream—it’s her husband’s dream. But he’s currently off “finding himself” in London, leaving Ginny with a failing business and no other means of support. She could go back to America and back to her parents, but that would mean being back under her mother’s control.

Emily’s story comes to us through a journal Sophia discovers in the back of Ginny’s shop. She’s the impoverished daughter of the town’s drunken parson, now supporting herself as a governess while secretly writing a journal, a novel, and letters to her forbidden beloved.

It’s good to see Christian fiction that deals with the hard areas in life.

The Secrets of Paper and Ink features a therapist who’s a victim of domestic violence, a separated Christian woman, and an impoverished gentlewoman. All are in difficult situations, partly a result of their own bad decisions but more a result of the decisions of the men they depended on.

The Secrets of Paper and Ink is a powerful story of love and loss and loving again.

The writing is excellent, and I loved the way the author wove the Victorian story into the contemporary. The main theme is of three women forced to discover their identities as individuals rather than as daughter, fiance, or wife. It’s a challenge many modern women still face—finding our purpose in God rather than in man.

It’s a strong message that’s presented well.

The novel isn’t preachy at all—in fact, you could give this to a non-Christian friend and they probably wouldn’t even guess it’s from a Christian publisher. At the same time, it’s true to real life and true to the Bible. Sin is present, but so are the consequences. And the end message is most definitely Christian: that we are defined by Whose we are. It doesn’t matter where we’ve been or what mistakes we’ve made along the way. What matters is that we can find our peace in God.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About Lindsay Harrel

Linsay Harrel, author of the Heart Between UsLindsay Harrel is a lifelong book nerd with a B.A. in journalism and M.A. in English. She lives in Arizona with her young family and two golden retrievers in serious need of training. Lindsay has held a variety of jobs, including curriculum editor for two universities, medical and business writer, and copywriter for a digital marketing agency. Now she juggles stay-at-home mommyhood with working freelance jobs, teaching college English courses online, and—of course—writing novels.

When she actually has time to do other things, she loves to sing, read, and sip passion iced teas from Starbucks. She loves to watch God work in ordinary lives to create something extraordinary, and she writes to bring hope to those who may have lost it along the way.

You can find Lindsay Harrel online at:

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About The Secrets of Paper and Ink

Brought together by a charming bookstore in England, three women fight to defy expectations, dream new dreams, and welcome love into their lives.

As a counselor, Sophia Barrett is trained to help people cope with their burdens. But when she meets a new patient whose troubles mirror her own, she realizes she hasn’t dealt with the pain of her recent past. After making a snap decision to get away for the summer, Sophia moves overseas to an apartment above a charming bookstore in Cornwall, England. She is hopeful she will find peace there surrounded by her favorite thing: great literature.

Bookstore owner Ginny Rose is desperate to save her business without asking for help from a husband who’s decided to take a break from their marriage. Ginny never imagined she’d be solely responsible for keeping afloat her husband’s dream, but the unexpected friendship with her new renter has her feeling more optimistic. Between the two of them—and Ginny’s brother-in-law, William—the bookstore might stand a chance.

Then Sophia finds a notebook in the bookstore that contains journal entries from Emily Fairfax, a governess who lived in Cornwall more than 150 years ago. Sophia learns that Emily harbored a secret passion for becoming an authoress—as well as a deep love for her childhood friend, Edward, whose station she dared not dream to touch.

Eager to know more of Emily’s story, Sophia goes on a quest—dragging Ginny and William with her—to discover the heart of the woman behind the beautiful entries. Soon Ginny’s need to save the bookstore becomes more than a way to save her marriage, and Sophia finds new purpose of her own. Together they find that sometimes both heartache and hope can reach across the centuries.

You can find The Secrets of Paper and Ink online at:

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

First Line Friday

First Line Friday | Week #76 | The Baggage Handler

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 The Baggage Handler by debut Australian author David Rawlings:

First Line from The Baggage Handler by David Rawlings: The sense of dread that began with Becky's email pressed Gillian Short deep into her seat as passengers filed past her down the aisle, a line of eye-rubbing yawns and bouncing impatience.

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

About The Baggage Handler

When three people take the wrong suitcase from baggage claim, their lives change forever.

A hothead businessman coming to the city for a showdown meeting to save his job.

A mother of three hoping to survive the days at her sister’s house before her niece’s wedding.

And a young artist pursuing his father’s dream so he can keep his own alive.

When David, Gillian, and Michael each take the wrong suitcase from baggage claim, the airline directs them to retrieve their bags at a mysterious facility in a deserted part of the city. There they meet the enigmatic Baggage Handler, who shows them there is more in their baggage than what they have packed, and carrying it with them is slowing them down in ways they can’t imagine. And they must deal with it before they can leave.

In this modern-day parable about the burdens that weigh us down, David Rawlings issues an inspiring invitation to lighten the load.

You can find The Baggage Handler online at

Amazon US | Amazon US | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

Click the button to check out what my fabulous fellow FirstLineFriday bloggers are sharing today:

You can then click the link which will take you to the master page of all this week’s #FirstLineFriday posts.

And you can click here to check out my previous FirstLineFriday posts.

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

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

Quote from Who I Am With You: "A good neighbor might have taken over a plate of fresh-baked chocolate-chip cookies. But Jessica had forgotten how to be a good neighbor."

Book Review | Who I Am With You by Robin Lee Hatcher

I was expecting this to be a contemporary romance, because all the other Robin Lee Hatcher novels I’ve read have been contemporary romances. So I was surprised when I started reading and found it’s a dual timeline story. Yes, the book description says this, but I guess I saw “Robin Lee Hatcher” and didn’t read the the book description properly. I knew I’d enjoy it.

And I did.

In the present story, Jessica Morgan is an artist who is expecting her dead husband’s baby while still recovering from his death, and the death of their daughter. Jessica has shut herself away from friends and life, but that changes when Ridley Chesterfield moves in next door. Ridley and his adopted stray dog challenge Jessica to come out of her shell.

I enjoyed watching Jessica grow past her grief and open up to live and love. However, if I had a criticism of Who I Am With You, it would be that she recovered from the lost of her daughter more quickly than seemed natural given the way she was portrayed at the beginning of the story. But I loved the way Ridley was able to bring Jessica out of her shell and back to church even while he was dealing with his own personal crisis.

In the past story, Andrew and Helen Henning are starting their perfect married life when Andrew loses his job. In the early weeks of what becomes the Great Depression. I didn’t enjoy the past story as much (hey, I’m a contemporary romance fan and the Great Depression is, well, somewhat depressing).

But the past story was compelling, and it set the scene for this contemporary story, and the next. And while I liked Ridley as a romance hero who faced internal and external challenges, his were minor in comparison to Andrew’s challenges. Overall, Who I Am With you is a great story filled with spiritual truth … and a couple of pointed comments on the current political climate.

Recommended for fans of dual timeline stories with a heart of faith.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About Robin Lee Hatcher

Robin Lee HatcherBest-selling novelist Robin Lee Hatcher is known for her heartwarming and emotionally charged stories of faith, courage, and love. Winner of the Christy, the RITA, the Carol, the Inspirational Reader’s Choice, and many other industry awards, Robin is also a recipient of Lifetime Achievement Awards from both Romance Writers of America and American Christian Fiction Writers. She is the author of 75+ novels and novellas with over five million copies in print.

Robin enjoys being with her family, spending time in the beautiful Idaho outdoors, reading books that make her cry, and watching romantic movies. Her main hobby (when time allows) is knitting, and she has a special love for making prayer shawls. A mother and grandmother, Robin and her husband make their home on the outskirts of Boise, sharing it with Poppet, the high-maintenance Papillon, and Princess Pinky, the DC (demon cat).

Find Robin online at:

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About Who I Am With You

For these two broken hearts, the first step toward love will be a huge leap of faith.

Jessica Mason isn’t looking for love when she meets Ridley Chesterfield. Instead she is still reeling from the tragic, unexpected loss of her husband and daughter—and awaiting the arrival of her unborn child. Harboring the secret of her husband’s betrayal, her pain is deeper than anyone knows.

Ridley Chesterfield is hiding out in Hope Springs, Idaho, avoiding a political scandal and the barrage of false media headlines that have tarnished his good name. The last thing Ridley wants is a relationship—but when fate leads Ridley to form a friendship with his reclusive and pregnant neighbor, he wonders if this small-town hideout might be more of a long-term destination.

When Jessica begins to read her great-grandfather’s Bible, she finds a connection with a man she never knew. Somehow the verses he marked and the words he wrote in the margins open her heart to healing. And as Ridley and Jessica help each other forgive the people who have wronged them, they must decide if the past will define them or if they will choose to love again.

Who I Am With You weaves together a modern-day romance with Jessica’s great-grandfather’s story from the 1930s, reminding us that some truths can cross generations and that faith has the power to transform families forever.

Find Who I Am With You online at:

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Click here to find Things Left Unsaid and other great Christian fiction at my Amazon shop!

Book Review | Tell Her No Lies by Kelly Irvin

Nina Fischer and her sister were adopted by her uncle after their deadbeat mother abandoned them as children. Now she’s an adult and an aspiring photographer … and a person of interest when her uncle is murdered in his study in the wee hours of the morning and she’s the only other person in the house.

It’s a great start to an excellent murder mystery.

We know Nina wasn’t the culprit, as she was on the telephone to her not-boyfriend at the time (hey, this is important. I’ve recently read a romantic suspense where the hero said he didn’t do it, but I didn’t know whether to believe him or not).

There is also the tension between Nina and the two men who are interested in her: Rick Zavala, the poor boy turned rising young lawyer, and Aaron McClure, a photojournalist with his own reasons for following her case.

This is the first novel I’ve read from Kelly Irvin, because her previous novels have all been Amish romance—not a genre I read. Tell Me No Lies has the distinction of being one of the few novels I’ve read from an Amish fiction author I’ve actually enjoyed (along with Vanetta Chapman and Shelley Shepherd Grey). The others have been lacking in research rigour, writing craft, or both.

I hope this isn’t Kelly Irvin’s only foray outside Amish fiction, as I’d like to read more of her writing.

The plot has plenty of twists and turns and red herrings. The writing is funny and smart, as were the characters. There’s plenty of suspense, a sweet romance, and a solid Christian thread. All in all, Tell Her No Lies is a great read.

Recommended for fans of Christian thrillers and romantic suspense from authors such as Robyn Caroll, Lisa Harris, and Diann Mills.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson and NetGalley for providing a fee ebook for review.

About Kelly Irvin

Author Photo: Kelly IrvinKelly Irvin is the bestselling author of the Every Amish Season and Amish of Bee County series. The Beekeeper’s Son received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly, who called it a “beautifully woven masterpiece.” The two-time Carol Award finalist is a  former newspaper reporter and retired public relations professional. Kelly lives in Texas with her husband, photographer Tim Irvin. They have two children, two grandchildren, and two cats. In her spare time, she likes to read books by her favorite authors.

Find Kelly Irvin online at:

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About Tell Her No Lies:

Even the most admired families have secrets to hide . . .

Nina Fischer carries a camera wherever she goes—so she can view life through a filter. Safely. After her mother abandoned her to the streets, Nina has kept people at a distance, including her uncle, who adopted Nina and her sister. Wealthy and proud, he is a good man, a fair judge, and someone many in San Antonio admire.

But when he is murdered, and the detective assigned to the case accuses Nina of the crime, she knows she must act. She’s determined to use her journalism background to find the real killer. The two men in her life want to help, but can she trust them? She’s known Rick since they were children, but now he’s an attorney whose political aspirations seem more important than Nina’s tragic loss. And then there’s Aaron, a news videographer; using their friendship could break the biggest story of his career.

Following the evidence leads Nina on a journey of discovery into her father’s shocking masquerade as a law-abiding, family-loving Christian. Unlocking these secrets could prove fatal, but it’s the only way Nina will ever be able to trust love again.

Combining romance and suspense, bestselling author Kelly Irvin’s Tell Her No Lies is a high-stakes race for the truth.

You can find Tell Her No Lies online at:

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Click here to find Tell Her No Lies and other great Christian fiction at my Amazon shop!

I wasn't always a liar ...

#ThrowbackThursday | Perennials by Julie Cantrell

It’s #Throwback Thursday. Today I’m bringing you my review of Perennials, by award-winning author Julie Cantrell. This review previously appeared at Australasian Christian Writers. Click here to check out the discussion.

Perennials: Inspirational Women’s Fiction for the Eat, Pray, Love Generation

PerennialsI don’t usually read reviews before reading a book I’ve asked to review, because I don’t want to be influenced (in contrast, I do read reviews before buying a book. Call me weird, but I find it easier to ignore a book’s faults if I know them before I start reading page one).

Anyway, if the review I read was accurate, this book had a lot of faults. The chief fault appeared to be that it was from a Christian publisher, yet was not Christian fiction.

Well, sold.

Okay, not sold. But I requested a review copy from NetGalley, because I wanted to find out for myself.

The writing was brilliant.

Julie Cantrell has a gift with words, with emotion. The plot was generally strong. I thought the plot device used to get Eva home to her family was contrived almost to the point of being unbelievable, but the writing was outstanding and the characterisation was solid enough that I was prepared to let a less-than-believable plot point pass.

Perennials is the story of a middle-aged professional woman who learns the hard way success isn’t defined by your salary or your job title (or your ability to life a Pinterest-worthy life), but by being true to yourself. She also learns that we can’t judge and resent others for their Pinterest-perfect lives, because we don’t know what they’re hiding.

These are powerful lessons.

Eva, the main character, wasn’t the most likeable person to begin with. She has a chip on her shoulder the size of a small planet, and even at forty-five years of age, it’s never occurred to her that her outlook on life and on her family (especially on her family) is anything but right. Being home again forces her to review and rethink some of her perceptions. The more I saw of her in her home town, the more I was able to sympathise and empathise with her situation.

Overall, I’d classify this as an inspirational women’s fiction version of Just Look Up by Courtney Walsh. Perennials definitely doesn’t fit in the narrow echo chamber of Christian fiction. If it was a romance, I’d say it was angling for a RITA nomination for Romance with Religious or Spiritual Elements. It had plenty of spiritual elements—but most of them weren’t Christian:

Namaste. The light in me sees the light in you.
The ancestors have a lot to teach us.
Kachina Woman, Hera, Kuan Yin, Mary. Whoever she is, she is timeless and omnipotent, representing all things feminine and calming and wise.

Definitely not Christian—and that last quote is in direct contradiction to the Gospel of John, which makes clear that Jesus is the way. Not one of many. Yet there were also lines like this:

Love keeps no record of wrongs.

And:

Jesus experienced the worst. Betrayed by someone he trusted, destroyed by the people he loved. Public shame, humiliation … but despite it all, he chose to love.

No, Perennials doesn’t fit into the shiny bucket that is CBA fiction.

If you’re looking for a typical Christian fiction novel, then I wouldn’t recommend Perennials. But if you’re looking for something that doesn’t fit the Christian norm—perhaps as a gift for a non-Christian friend who appreciates good writing and enjoys books such as Eat, Pray, Love—then Perennials may be a good option.

Perhaps Perennials does present Jesus as an option to be considered rather than as the answer. But in doing that, it may attract readers who wouldn’t ever pick up a ‘Christian’ novel. And if those readers are true to themselves, they will consider Jesus. And I believe we need more books written by Christians for a general market audience, books that address real-world problems and present Jesus as an option.

As Perennials does.

What do you think?

Thanks to Thomas Nelson and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About Julie Cantrell

Julie CantrellNew York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author, Julie Cantrell is known for writing inspirational novels that explore the hard truths women typically keep secret. While she delves into emotional issues, she does so with a compassionate and open heart, always bringing readers through to a hopeful path for peace, empathy, and healing.

A speech-language pathologist and literacy advocate, Julie was honored to receive the 2012 Mississippi Arts Commission Literary Fellowship. She also received the 2016 Mary Elizabeth Nelson Fellowship at Rivendell Writer’s Colony, which is awarded to a writer who encourages spiritual growth, healing, and care through his or her work.

Julie and her two children now live in Oxford, Mississippi where they spent six years operating Valley House Farm, a sustainable organic farmstead, before moving into a new adventure.

You can find Julie Cantrell online at:

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About Perennials

When two estranged sisters reunite for their parents’ 50th anniversary, a family tragedy brings unexpected lessons of hope and healing amid the flowers of their mother’s perennial garden.
Eva—known to all as Lovey—grew up safe and secure in Oxford, MS, surrounded by a rich literary history and her mother’s stunning flower gardens. But a shed fire, and the injuries that it caused, seemed to change everything . . . especially when her older sister, Bitsy, blamed Lovey for the irreparable damage.
Bitsy became the cheerleader. The homecoming queen. The perfect Southern belle who could do no wrong. All the while, Lovey served as the family scapegoat, always bearing the brunt when Bitsy threw blame her way.
At eighteen, suffocating in her sister’s shadow, Lovey turned down a marriage proposal and fled to Arizona—a place as far from Mississippi as she could find.
In time, she became a successful advertising executive and a weekend yoga instructor, carving a satisfying life for herself, free from Bitsy’s vicious lies. But now that she’s turning 45, Lovey is feeling more alone than ever and questioning the choices that have led her here.
When she gets a call from her father insisting that she come home three weeks early for her parents’ 50th anniversary, Lovey is at wits’ end. She’s about to close the biggest contract of her career, and there’s a lot on the line. But despite the risks, her father’s words, “Family First,” draw her right back to the red-dirt roads of Mississippi.
Lovey is welcomed home by a secret project—a memory garden her father has planned as an anniversary surprise for her mother. As she helps create this sacred space, Lovey begins to rediscover her roots, learning to live perennially in spite of life’s many trials and tragedies.
Years ago, Lovey chose to leave her family and the South far behind. But now that she’s returned, she’s realizing things at home were not always what they seemed.

You can find Perennials online at:

Amazon US | Amazon AU | Amazon UK

ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

Quote from On Magnolia Lane by Denise Hunter

Book Review | On Magnolia Lane (Blue Ridge Romance #3) by Denise Hunter

On Magnolia Lane is the third book in Denise Hunter’s Blue Ridge Romance series. Or maybe the fourth—Sweetbriar Cottage isn’t officially part of the series, but is set in the same small town and features several of the same characters. Yes, the novels can be read as standalone stories, but this is definitely Daisy and Jack’s story and you don’t have to read the earlier books to enjoy it. But I know readers who prefer to read a series in order will want to start with Sweetbriar Cottage (which is still my favourite).

I found the beginning of On Magnolia Lane was somewhat slow.

It took me a while to get into On Magnolia Lane. This could be because I had high expectations (thanks, Sweetbriar Cottage). But I didn’t need to worry, despite the could-be-predictable set-up. This story was as strong as any in the series even though a couple of plot points ran the risk of being cliché.

Daisy runs the family florist business and helps out at Hope House, a home for teenage girls. When Hope House loses its roof in a storm, Daisy is given the task of organising a fundraiser for the house. She can’t do it alone … but help comes from unexpected places.

Pastor Jack has been secretly in love with Daisy for two years.

He thought it was a secret, but his friends know and they sign him up for the online dating app Daisy is using. The two begin a friendship, except she doesn’t know TJ is Jack. So when will Jack tell her the truth?

There were a couple of areas I was less certain about. Jack was a pastor and Daisy a member of his congregation. She’s apparently been going to Jack for counselling for a couple of years (although I never was exactly clear what she was being counselled about, and whether it was appropriate for a single male pastor to be counselling a single female congregation member without supervision, even if the office door was always open).

But the novel wasn’t really a “Christian” novel in the way, say, Sweetbriar Cottage was. Several scenes took place in the church, but the focus seemed to be more on the outward appearance of faith than inward belief.

That contrast was actually a feature of the book, as it came through in the subplot about Daisy’s father—the town mayor who insisted his daughter always act the part. Daisy finds something that challenges her perception of her father, and has to reconcile her memories of him with the lies. Because she doesn’t like lies. Jack helps her work through her issues, which is kind of ironic … And, of course, we’re always waiting for the big reveal, where Daisy finds out what we’ve known all along. How will she react?

Overall, this was a contemporary romance with solid characters, plenty of layers, and unexpected depths. Recommended for contemporary Christian romance fans.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About Denise Hunter

Denise HunterDenise Hunter is the internationally published bestselling author of more than 30 books, including “The Convenient Groom” and “A December Bride” which have been made into Hallmark movies. She has appeared on the The 700 club and won awards such as The Holt Medallion Award, The Carol Award, The Reader’s Choice Award, The Foreword Book of the Year Award, and is a RITA finalist.

Denise writes heartwarming, small-town love stories. Her readers enjoy the vicarious thrill of falling in love and the promise of a happily-ever-after sigh as they savor the final pages of her books.

In 1996, inspired by the death of her grandfather, Denise began her first book, writing while her children napped. Two years later it was published, and she’s been writing ever since. Her husband says he inspires all her romantic stories, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too!

When Denise isn’t orchestrating love lives on the written page, she enjoys traveling with her family, drinking good coffee, and playing drums. Denise makes her home in Indiana where she and her husband raised three boys and are currently enjoying an empty nest.

Find Denise Hunter online at:

Website | Facebook

About On Magnolia Lane

Falling in love with Daisy was easy for Jack. But finding the courage to tell her becomes problematic when his secret feelings lead to even bigger complications.

After two years of counseling sessions with Daisy Pendleton, Pastor Jack McReady has earned a permanent spot in her life as a spiritual leader—and nothing more. Jack would never risk losing her trust by exposing the depths of his heart, but he’s hopelessly in love with her.

Daisy loves her southern small-town life and her job at her family-run flower shop, but she doesn’t have the thing she longs for most: someone to share it with. Her recent foray into online dating has been a disaster—until she meets TJ.

Jack could kill his friend Noah for using his initials and some indistinct photos to set up a profile on the dating app Daisy is using. But when he’s finally afforded the opportunity to show her a different side of himself, he’s sucked into the plan before he has time for second thoughts.

Online, Daisy shares some of her greatest fears with TJ, but in person, Jack and Daisy are spending more time together. When a devastating family secret surfaces, Daisy knows that only her trusted friend and counselor can bring her comfort. Jack wants nothing more than to be both men for Daisy, but revealing his secret will prove to be the ultimate test of Daisy’s grace.

Find On Magnolia Lane online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

Click here to check out On Magnolia Lane and other great Christian fiction at my Amazon shop!

Cover Reveal | Love and Other Mistakes by Jessica Kate

I know today is Monday and Monday is usually when I post a new review, but I’m mixing things up a little this week to bring you something special: the cover reveal for the debut novel from my critique partner, Jessica Kate.

Isn’t that gorgeous?

Love and Other Mistakes

So what’s Love and Other Mistakes about?

Here’s the book description:

Natalie Groves was meant for great things. Preferably youth ministry with a side gig as an M&M connoisseur.
But soon after her fiancé left, Natalie’s evangelist father was diagnosed with cancer. Her grand plans evaporated . . . and God has seemed disappointed ever since.
Seven years later a church internship presents Natalie a chance at her destiny, but she needs a job to work around it. And the only offer is worse than a life sentence of tofu.
Seven years ago, Jeremy ‘Jem’ Walters left Charlottesville, Virginia to escape his father, God, and heartbreak over Natalie.
Now he’s back in town, a committed Christian, and desperate for help with his infant son and troubled teenage niece, Lili—who’s hiding an explosive family secret.
When Natalie and Jem join forces, sparks fly. But will they be burned in the process?

If you’d like to read the first chapter, click here to pop on over to Jessica Kate’s website.

Love and Other Mistakes releases in July 2019.