Tag: #ThrowbackThursday

Quote from Falling for You by Becky Wade

#ThrowbackThursday | Falling for You by Becky Wade

Falling for You is the second novel in the Bradford Sisters series, and it’s the story of an internationally famous model and a retired football star.

Here’s the Amazon description:

Famously beautiful model Willow Bradford is taking a temporary break from her hectic schedule to work as the innkeeper at her family’s small-town bed-and-breakfast. She was enjoying the peace of her hometown, Merryweather, Washington, right up until she came face-to-face with Corbin Stewart, the man she loves to hate. A thoughtful rule-follower by nature, Willow threw caution to the wind four years ago when she entrusted her heart to Corbin–and suffered the consequences when it all fell apart.

Former NFL quarterback Corbin is forceful, charming, and accustomed to getting what he wants . . . except where Willow Bradford is concerned. Unable to forget her, he’s never stopped regretting what happened between them. When their paths unexpectedly cross again, he’s determined to make her give him a second chance.

When a decades-old missing persons case finds Corbin and Willow working together, they’re forced to confront their past and who they’ve become–and whether they can risk falling for one another all over again.

My Thoughts

Injury has forced Corbin Stewart to retire from football. He’s bought a house in Shore Pine, Washington, to be near his only remaining family. What he didn’t know was that it also put him near ex-girlfriend Willow Bradford, now on a sabbatical from modelling, living in nearby Merryweather and managing her family B&B.

Charlotte Dixon, Corbin’s twelve-year-old niece, has discovered a family secret.

She’s convinced Willow Bradford will help her uncover the mystery behind the secret, and convinces Corbin to introduce her to Willow. Willow agrees to help, even though helping will bring her into too much contact with ex-boyfriend Corbin. Who is still devastatingly attractive, despite the way he broke up with her four years ago.

Falling for You follows the same pattern as True to You and the free prequel novella, Then Came You. It intersperses the present-day story with letters, emails, and text messages from the past and present. It’s a novel (!) way to tell a story, and it works as we see the past and present stories of Willow, Corbin, and others.

And it’s a strong story.

It’s the romance of two people who messed up years ago, and have to work out if there’s a way through that mess to find happiness. Part of that mess was because while Willow is and always has been a strong Christian, Corbin called himself a Christian but didn’t live the life (football star, remember?). He’s now become a Christian, but finding life hard.

Willow has her own problems with faith, and they are so deep-seated it actually takes her a while to realise they even exist. This, to me, was the depth in the book—Willow coming to terms with her past choices, and what that means for her faith. And there was a fascinating suspense plot around Charlotte’s secret.

I loved True to You because I related to Nora, the librarian. She’s bookish, and that meant I could relate to her in a way I can’t relate to an internationally famous model. But I could still relate to Willow as a woman who has made mistakes, who has to learn what forgiveness really means.

Falling for You is a touching tale of love lost and love found again, underpinned by an intriguing mystery, and the power of God to forgive.

Now I’m looking forward to the third book in the Bradford Sisters series, the story of the pastry chef who doesn’t realise her best friend of forever is in love with her (and has been forever). He knows it. I know it. Her sisters know it. But she doesn’t, and that’s a trope I love.

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

About Becky Wade

Author Photo Becky WadeBecky is the Carol and Christy award winning author of heartwarming, humorous, and swoon-worthy contemporary inspirational romances.

During her childhood in California, Becky frequently produced homemade plays starring her sisters, friends, and cousins. These plays almost always featured a heroine, a prince, and a love story with a happy ending. She’s been a fan of all things romantic ever since.

These days, you’ll find Becky in Dallas, Texas failing to keep up with her housework, trying her best in yoga class, carting her three kids around town, watching TV with her Cavalier spaniel on her lap, hunched over her computer writing, or eating chocolate.

You can find Becky Wade online at:

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You can find Falling for You online at:

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You can read the introduction to Falling for You below:

Quote from Shadows of Hope: He wasn't an adulterous man, not really. Not in the ways that mattered.

#ThrowbackThursday | Shadows of Hope by Georgiana Daniels

It’s Throwback Thursday! Today I’m resharing my review of Shadows of Hope by Georgiana Daniels. This novel impressed me because it felt real—real characters making real mistakes, leaving them with real problems and no easy answers. I’d never describe the ending as happy, because there is no way to have a happy ending to this dilemma without killing off some characters (which writers often do, but which can feel like cheating as I read).

Shadows of Hope is not the feel-good romance novel I usually read and review.

Instead, it’s a thoroughly modern novel where messed-up characters have to wade the confusing waters of consequences, and there is no trite or easy answer with no convenient divorces or deaths.

Marissa is forty, infertile, and wants a baby—a want made worse by working in a pregnancy resource centre, and being married to a man she suspects of wandering. Kaitlyn is the barista at Marissa’s favourite coffee shop, a twenty-six year-old college student who is secretly dating one of her professors. Colin is a biology professor who breaks off his illicit relationship as he finds out he’s up for tenure. Now if only she’d stop trying to contact him …

Kaitlyn discovers she’s pregnant, but Colin has broken it off and she can’t tell him. She does tell Marissa, not realising she’s Colin’s wife. But we know, and that one small secret drives much of the tension. When will Marissa find out? What will she do when she does? How will she cope in the meantime?

 

The writing was excellent.

The author delves into the emotions of three people who’ve all made mistakes in their relationships, mistakes which mean there is no easy answer, no possible ending that will satisfy everyone. The story wasn’t predictable, and I liked that because it felt authentic in a way a feel-good romance ending would have felt contrived and false.

The spiritual aspects were also interesting: Marissa and Kaitlyn were both raised as Christians, but both fell away from the church. Marissa got more involved in church after she married, but Colin never did (which caused some friction). Interesting …

Recommended for those who enjoy contemporary Christian fiction that deals with the real-life issues that don’t have easy answers.

Thanks to Barbour Publishing and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About Georgiana Daniels

Author Photo: Georgiana DanielsAs a Christian author and homeschooling mom, my life is random and often chaotic—but abundantly blessed! I’m the wife of a super-charged husband and the mother of three high-energy daughters, and as such I’ve become a master at spinning plates—until they crash and I remember how much I need God’s grace. The journey is filled with both good times and extraordinary challenges, and now I’d like to peel back the curtain and share some of it with you!

Whether you’re a reader who desires fiction where the characters’ lives are challenged in unimaginable ways, or you’re a writer who needs a little encouragement—I have a heart for you!

My hope is that you’ll be inspired and motivated. Motivated to love more and live bigger no matter what’s happening. Because I get it…I know that life doesn’t always turn out the way we plan. But we can trust there’s a bigger plan at work!

Come along and join me for real life…real hope…real fiction.

You can find Georgiana Daniels online at:

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About Shadows of Hope

A story of hope in the aftermath of inconceivable betrayal and broken dreams
What if. . .

. . .you struggled with infertility but unknowingly befriended your husband’s pregnant mistress?

What if. . .

. . .the woman you were seeing behind your wife’s back gets pregnant, threatening your job and marriage?

What if. . .

. . .your boyfriend never told you he was married and you discover you’re pregnant?

Crisis pregnancy worker Marissa Moreau suspects her husband is cheating, but little does she know how close to home her husband’s infidelity hits. College student Kaitlyn Farrows is floundering after a relationship with her professor leaves her pregnant. Soon she lands a job and a support system at the local pregnancy resource center and things seem to be turning around. But when Marissa and Kaitlyn become friends, neither one knows they share a connection—Colin, Marissa’s husband and Kaitlyn’s former professor. When their private lives collide, the two women must face the ultimate test of their faith and choose how to move forward as they live in the shadows of hope.

You can find Shadows of Hope online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

You can read the introduction to Shadows of Hope below:

#ThrowbackThursday | Missing Isaac by Valerie Fraser Luesse

It’s Throwback Thursday, and today I’m sharing my January 2018 review of Missing Isaac by Valerie Fraser Luesse. It was an outstanding debut novel from this Southern author, and I’m looking forward to reading and reviewing her second novel, Almost Home, which releases this week.

Valerie Fraser Luesse’s writing style runs counter to some modern conventions.

She uses dialect and non-standard spelling. There are unnecessary adverbs and repetition. The dialgoue tags are often clunky. The point of view is often distant, and slips into omniscient at times.

Yet Missing Isaac works despite these “errors”. Or perhaps because of them.

When Pete’s father dies in a farm accident, Pete’s relationship with Isaac is the one thing that keeps him going. It didn’t matter that Isaac was only a field hand, or that he was black—even in 1960’s Alabama.

But when Isaac disappears, leaving only his truck, no one seems much inclined to find out what happened. Except Pete.

Missing Isaac doesn’t fall neatly into any one genre. It’s part mystery, as Pete tries to find the truth of what happened to Isaac. It’s part family saga, as Pete grows up, and part romance, as he meets Dovey. And it’s part historical fiction, in that it’s a story set in a time far removed from ours, in terms of culture and attitude, if not years.

The writing is strong, with a unique and lyrical style, and a lot of home truths. This line struck me as particularly relevant:

Quote from Missing Isaac

It’s Dovey talking to Pete—the privileged white boy/man who doesn’t understand his privilege because it’s all he’s ever known. It could equally be talking to those in the modern world who don’t understand why #MeToo or #BlackLivesMatter are newsworthy.

Missing Isaac is a strong debut novel, with a solid story driven by strong characters and set in a time of great social change. Recommended.

Thanks to Revell and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About Valerie Fraser Luesse

Valerie Fraser Luesse is an award-winning magazine writer best known for her feature stories and essays in Southern Living, where she is currently a senior travel editor. Her work has been anthologized in the audio collection Southern Voices and in A Glimpse of Heaven, an essay collection featuring works by C. S. Lewis, Randy Alcorn, John Wesley, and others.

As a freelance writer and editor, she was the lead writer for Southern Living 50 Years: A Celebration of People, Places, and Culture. Specializing in stories about unique pockets of Southern culture, Luesse has published major pieces on the Gulf Coast, the Mississippi Delta, Louisiana’s Acadian Prairie, and the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Her editorial section on Hurricane Katrina recovery in Mississippi and Louisiana won the 2009 Writer of the Year award from the Southeast Tourism Society.

Luesse earned her bachelor’s degree in English at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama, and her master’s degree in English at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. She grew up in Harpersville, Alabama, a rural community in Shelby County, and now lives in Birmingham.

About Missing Isaac

There was another South in the 1960s, one far removed from the marches and bombings and turmoil in the streets that were broadcast on the evening news. It was a place of inner turmoil, where ordinary people struggled to right themselves on a social landscape that was dramatically shifting beneath their feet. This is the world of Valerie Fraser Luesse’s stunning debut, Missing Isaac.

It is 1965 when black field hand Isaac Reynolds goes missing from the tiny, unassuming town of Glory, Alabama. The townspeople’s reactions range from concern to indifference, but one boy will stop at nothing to find out what happened to his unlikely friend. White, wealthy, and fatherless, young Pete McLean has nothing to gain and everything to lose in his relentless search for Isaac.

In the process, he will discover much more than he bargained for. Before it’s all over, Pete–and the people he loves most–will have to blur the hard lines of race, class, and religion. And what they discover about themselves may change some of them forever.

Find Missing Isaac online at:

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Read the introduction to Missing Isaac below:

Click here to find Missing Isaac and other great Christian fiction at my Amazon store!

Quote from The Saturday Night Supper Club

#ThrowbackThursday | The Saturday Night Supper Club by Carla Laureano

It’s Throwback Thursday! Today I’m resharing my review of The Saturday Night Supper Club by Carla Laureano. The sequel, Brunch at the Bittersweet Cafe, releases this week, and I’m looking forward to reading it soon.

Wonderful!

If you ask readers what plot points or ideas they don’t like in novels, there is always one that comes up: the impossibly good-looking hero or heroine. Others dislike too-rich heroes. Or writers. Or all of the above. I confess: I’m one of them. I especially don’t like the impossibly handsome rich writer (except for Richard Castle, but we all know he’s a joke).

The Saturday Night Supper Club has all these things (except for Richard Castle.) Despite that, it’s a great read—almost perfect contemporary Christian romance. It’s also a lesson in the power of the media—especially social media—to work for good and for evil.

And the food … I wanted it all. Well, except the chard. And the fennel. It was a weed where I grew up, and we were all told not to eat it.

Anyway, about the book …

Rachel Bishop is the darling of the Denver casual fine dining scene until a misplaced comment to the wrong person goes viral. Writer Alex Kanin unintentionally started the whole media firestorm, but doesn’t realise the full extent of the repercussions until he tries to apologise to Rachel, and finds his article has cost Rachel her job.

Yes, he’s the impossibly handsome writer whose debut memoir jumped to the top of all the right bestseller lists. He’s also rich, thanks to a couple of timely investments, and grew up in a well-off immigrant family. In contrast, Rachel left home without graduating high school, and has risen to the top of her profession through hard work and determination.

The Saturday Night Supper Club is the story of how Alex and Rachel work together to try and resurrect her career.

It’s a romance, so you know how that goes. It also has a solid Christian thread, in that both Rachel and Alex are Christians, and each has lessons to learn about the nature of God. But it’s not preachy, which is great.

Overall, The Saturday Night Supper Club is a great contemporary Christian romance, with wonderful characters, and wonderful food. I do hope there are a couple of sequels in the works!

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

About Carla Laureano

Carla LaureanoCarla Laureano is the RITA® Award-winning author of contemporary inspirational romance and Celtic fantasy (as C.E. Laureano). A graduate of Pepperdine University, she worked as a sales and marketing executive for nearly a decade before leaving corporate life behind to write fiction full-time. She currently lives in Denver with her husband and two sons, where she writes during the day and cooks things at night.

You can find Carla Laureano online at:

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About The Saturday Night Supper Club

Denver chef Rachel Bishop has accomplished everything she’s dreamed and some things she never dared hope, like winning a James Beard Award and heading up her own fine-dining restaurant. But when a targeted smear campaign causes her to be pushed out of the business by her partners, she vows to do whatever it takes to get her life back . . . even if that means joining forces with the man who inadvertently set the disaster in motion.

Essayist Alex Kanin never imagined his pointed editorial would go viral. Ironically, his attempt to highlight the pitfalls of online criticism has the opposite effect: it revives his own flagging career by destroying that of a perfect stranger. Plagued by guilt-fueled writer’s block, Alex vows to do whatever he can to repair the damage. He just doesn’t expect his interest in the beautiful chef to turn personal.

Alex agrees to help rebuild Rachel’s tarnished image by offering his connections and his home to host an exclusive pop-up dinner party targeted to Denver’s most influential citizens: the Saturday Night Supper Club. As they work together to make the project a success, Rachel begins to realize Alex is not the unfeeling opportunist she once thought he was, and that perhaps there’s life—and love—outside the pressure-cooker of her chosen career. But can she give up her lifelong goals without losing her identity as well?

You can find The Saturday Night Supper Club online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

You can read the introduction to The Saturday Night Supper Club Below:

Click here to check out The Saturday Night Supper Club and other great Christian fiction at my Amazon shop!

#Throwback Thursday | A Defense of Honor (Haven Manor #1) by Kristi Ann Hunter

It’s Throwback Thursday! Today I’m resharing my review of A Defense of Honor by Kristi Ann Hunter, which first appeared at International Christian Fiction Writers. The Christmas Heirloom novella collection started with a Haven Manor story, and the second official book in the series releases next week.
The Honourable Katherine FitzGilbert (I’m sorry, but the title is British, so it should be Honourable not Honorable) is now known as Mama Kit. She shepherds a group of not-quite-orphans in a forgotten house in the country. Her anonymity and remote seclusion are her weapons, the way she protects those in her charge.
Graham, Viscount Wharton, is bored … at least, until he notices a beautiful lady in green at a ball, a lady he then rescues before she disappears. He has no idea how to find her again, as he doesn’t even know her name. So he’s more than a little surprised to come across her in an out-of-the-way almost-abandoned manor house near the small market town of Marlborough.

As first meetings go, Kit and Graham’s first meeting is definitely memorable. So is their second.

But it’s when they meet in Marlborough that things get interesting. Graham is trying to locate his best friend’s missing sister, and he realises Kit must know where she is. But Kit has spent the last twelve years protecting women and hiding their illegitimate children, and she’s not about to stop for some random Lord who finds her secret home. No matter how attractive he is.
And the end … I’m not going to give spoilers, but I am already looking forward to the next book in the series.

A Defense of Honor is the first full-length novel in Kristi Ann Hunter’s new Haven Manor series, but it’s not the first book. There is a prequel novella, A Search for Refuge, which is available as a free ebook. It’s not necessary to read A Search for Refuge first, although I did, and I can assure you it will provide needed backstory to A Defense of Honor. It’s also an excellent story on its own.

Recommended for all Regency romance fans, because it’s close to perfect. And Kristi Ann Hunter is a wonderful witty writer.

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

About Kristi Ann Hunter

Author photo: Kristi Ann Hunter

Kristi is the RITA® award winning author of Regency romance novels from a Christian worldview. Her titles include A Noble Masquerade, An Elegant Façade, and An Uncommon Courtship. Beyond writing, she is also speaker, teaching classes in writing as well as Biblical and spiritual topics. She has spoken to writers’ groups, schools, and young women’s groups at churches.

When she is not writing or interacting with her readers, Kristi spends time with her family and her church. A graduate of Georgia Tech with a computer science degree, she can also be found fiddling with her computer in her free time. A born lover of stories she is also an avid reader. From very young she dreamed of sharing her own stories with others and praises God daily that she gets to live that dream today.

You can find Kristi Ann Hunter online at:

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About A Defense of Honor

When Katherine “Kit” FitzGilbert turned her back on London society more than a decade ago, she determined never to set foot in a ballroom again. But when business takes her to London and she’s forced to run for her life, she stumbles upon not only a glamorous ballroom but also Graham, Lord Wharton. What should have been a chance encounter becomes much more as Graham embarks on a search for his friend’s missing sister and is convinced Kit knows more about the girl than she’s telling.

After meeting Graham, Kit finds herself wishing things could have been different for the first time in her life, but what she wants can’t matter. Long ago, she dedicated herself to helping women escape the same scorn that drove her from London and raising the innocent children caught in the crossfire. And as much as she desperately wishes to tell Graham everything, revealing the truth isn’t worth putting him and everyone she loves in danger.

You can find A Defense of Honor online at:

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You can read the introduction to A Defense of Honor below:

Click here to find A Defense of Honor and other great Christian fiction at my Amazon shop!

#Throwback Thursday | A Light on the Hill by Connilyn Cossette

It’s Throwback Thursday! Today I’m resharing my review of A Light on the Hill, the first book in Connilyn Cossette’s new Cities of Refuge series, which first appeared at International Christian Fiction Writers.

I think some of the characters featured in her previous Out from Egypt series, Counted with the Stars, Shadow of the Storm, and Wings of the Wind. I haven’t read any of the Out of Egypt series, but didn’t feel I missed anything.

Old Testament Biblical fiction, by definition, isn’t Christian fiction.

It can’t be, because the setting predates Christ. But it is an insight into the life and culture of the times of the Old Testament—in this case, the years after the nation of Israel first arrived in the Promised Land under the leadership of Joshua. And it does point to Jesus. The cities of refuge represented a revolutionary idea. An accused criminal could seek and gain mercy, instead of being subject to the cultural retribution of an eye for an eye, a life for a life.

But the theme of A Light on the Hill is definitely Christian.

Justice, or mercy? Love, or hate? Forgiveness, or retribution? While Biblical fiction isn’t Christian fiction per se, good Biblical fiction reinforces the fact the Bible is one story, with the Old Testament foreshadowing the New Testament. This is additionally reinforced by the main characters, most of whom have chosen to follow Yahweh rather than being born Hebrew.

I don’t read a lot of Biblical fiction. It seemed to fall out of favour for a while, and my interest got pulled in other genre directions. But A Light on the Hill easily equals those early Biblical fiction stories I read from authors like Francine Rivers and Angela Hunt.

The story does take a while to get going—the first quarter is background, introducing the characters and setting up the situation that will force Moriyah to flee for her life. However, even this background is an interesting and necessary introduction to life in Shiloh in the early days of Israel.

The writing is strong.

It’s an unusual choice to write historical fiction in first person, but it works because it takes us deep into Moriyah’s mind, and that enables us to relate to her. After all, we all have hidden scars of one sort or another. The characters are well-drawn, and the plot is full of suspense as we journey with Moriyah, hoping she’ll reach her objective, yet worried she won’t.

A Light on the Hill a story of judgement as the people of Shiloh judge Moriyah based on her external appearance to the point she hides away from people and from life. It’s also the story of mercy, as Yahweh has already established the means for Morihay to be accepted and saved.

Recommended for fans of Biblical fiction, or for those who would like to better understand the times of the Bible.

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

About Connilyn Cossette

Connilyn Cossette is the Christy Award Nominated and CBA-Bestselling author of the Out from Egypt Series from Bethany House Publishers. There’s not much she enjoys more than digging into the rich, ancient world of the Bible, discovering new gems of grace that point to Jesus, and weaving them into an immersive fiction experience.

Find Connilyn Cossette online at:

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About A Light on the Hill

Seven years ago, Moriyah was taken captive in Jericho and branded with the mark of the Canaanite gods. Now the Israelites are experiencing peace in their new land, but Moriyah has yet to find her own peace. Because of the shameful mark on her face, she hides behind her veil at all times and the disdain of the townspeople keeps her from socializing. And marriage prospects were out of the question . . . until now.

Her father has found someone to marry her, and she hopes to use her love of cooking to impress the man and his motherless sons. But when things go horribly wrong, Moriyah is forced to flee. Seeking safety at one of the newly-established Levitical cities of refuge, she is wildly unprepared for the dangers she will face, and the enemies–and unexpected allies–she will encounter on her way.

Find A Light on the Hill online at:

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You can read the introduction to A Light on the Hill below:

Click here to find A Light on the Hill and other great Christian fiction at my Amazon shop!

 

#ThrowbackThursday | Integrate by Adele Jones

It’s Throwback Thursday! Today I’m resharing by review of Integrate, the first book in a near-future YA science trilogy from Australian author Adele Jones. This review first appeared at Iola’s Christian Reads.

Fast-paced YA Suspense with a GMO twist

Blaine Colton isn’t the average seventeen-year-old boy. He spent the first fourteen years of his life in a wheelchair until Professor Ramer’s experimental gene therapy turned him into a normal Australian teen. But now he’s back at the Advance Research Institute, under the care of Dr Melissa Hartfield, and something’s not quite right …

Blaine isn’t sure what’s happening, but he knows he needs to escape the Institute, and keep out of the clutches of Dr Hartfield and her cronies. And he needs to get more pills, so he seeks help from his former next-door neighbour, Sophie Faraday. But Dr Hartfield has already contacted Sophie, who now doesn’t know who’s telling the truth: Blaine, or the doctor?

Integrate is a fast-paced psychological thriller set in Brisbane, Australia. The plot is excellent, with enough science to keep it interesting, but not so much that it dissolves into technobabble. I liked the way all the little bits tied up at the end, yet still leaves room for a sequel (I’d like to see more of Blaine, Sophie and Jett).

Blaine is mature for his age, having come through the disabilities he faced in childhood with a strong sense of self, and no desire to return to the person he used to be. He’s fighting for his life in a different way, and has to persuade Sophie and others that he’s not violent or deranged—a difficult task when he’s only partway through his cure and his physical health is failing.

The other characters are good as well. They all feel like real people, with a mixture of good and bad points. They make mistakes, judge things incorrectly, and get frustrating. Annoying, but just like real people in real life. All in all, Integrate is a good read. Recommended.

Thanks to Rhiza Press for providing a free ebook for review.

About Adele Jones

Author Photo - Adele Jones

I’m an Australian author who writes young adult and historical novels, poetry and short fiction, and inspirational non-fiction works. My first YA techno-thriller novel ‘Integrate’ was awarded the 2013 CALEB Prize for unpublished manuscript.

My writing explores issues of social justice, humanity, spirituality, natural beauty and meaning in life’s journey, drawing on inspiration from my family, faith, friends, music and science.

Find Adele Jones online at:

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About Integrate

Blaine Colton had been handed a genetic death sentence until revolutionary gene therapy changed his life. Living a relatively normal existence, he is called to an unscheduled post-treatment appointment just weeks before his eighteenth birthday.

Informed that his life saving procedure was never approved, he is held against his will for his status as an apparent illegal GMO. Subjected to constant testing, refused contact with his parents and deprived of life sustaining medication, Blaine begins to suspect that something is wrong. Wanting answers, he escapes the Institute and ambitious Chief Scientist, Dr Melissa Hartfield.

Now a fugitive with a failing body, Blaine must find Professor Ramer, the developer of his therapy. But the Professor has vanished and time is running out. Fast.

You can find Integrate online at:

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Goodreads

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:

Website | Facebook | Twitter

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

#ThrowbackThursday | The Governess of Highland Hall by Carrie Turansky

For fans of Downton Abbey (isn’t that everyone?)

Illness has forced the Foster family to return to England from their missionary school and orphanage in India. Julia gains employment at Highland House, the home of Sir William Ramsay, as governess to his children, Andrew and Millicent, and to his teenage cousins and wards, Katharine and Penelope.

Sir William is looking for a governess who won’t mind staying in the country, because he has only recently inherited Highland Hall, and the death duties are placing a lot of financial pressure on him. Julia hasn’t told him she plans on returning to India with her family as soon as her father is well again, and as she spends more time at Highland Hall, getting to know Sir William and his family, she has to rethink her future plans.

The story and characters captured my attention from the start.

I like an intelligent heroine who isn’t afraid to have her own opinions, so I liked Julia. William was a man with many troubles, but made a fitting hero. I liked the romantic subplot featuring Sarah, William’s sister, and I liked the Christian aspect of the story—Julia, especially, has a strong Christian faith (she’s partly modelled on Amy Carmichael, a real-life missionary to India).

The novel combines elements of classic British fiction like Jane Eyre with the Edwardian era, made fashionable by the TV series Downton Abbey. I’m a huge fan of Downton Abbey and fiction set in England, and it always bugs me when I’m pulled out of the story by silly factual errors, or by English characters using American vocabulary (like fall or pavement). Carrie Turansky contacted me to ask if I’d read her draft to find any such errors. I was pleased to help, and can only hope I found them all!

The Governess of Highland Hall is the first of a trilogy. Recommended.

About Carrie Turansky

Carrie TuranskyBestselling Inspirational Romance Author Carrie Turansky writes historical and contemporary novels and novellas set in England and the US. She has won the ACFW Carol Award, the Holt Medallion, and the International Digital Award. Readers say her stories are: “Heartwarming and inspiring! I couldn’t put it down!” . . . “Touching love story. It captured me from the first page! Rich characters, beautifully written” . . . “My new favorite author!”

Find Carrie Turansky online at:

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About The Governess of Highland Hall

Worlds lie between the marketplaces of India and the halls of a magnificent country estate like Highland Hall. Will Julia be able to find her place when a governess is neither upstairs family nor downstairs help?

Missionary Julia Foster loves working alongside her parents, ministering and caring for young girls in India. But when the family must return to England due to illness, she readily accepts the burden for her parents’ financial support. Taking on a job at Highland Hall as governess, she quickly finds that teaching her four privileged, ill-mannered charges at a grand estate is more challenging than expected, and she isn’t sure what to make of the estate’s preoccupied master, Sir William Ramsey.

Widowed and left to care for his two young children and his deceased cousin Randolph’s two teenage girls, William is consumed with saving the estate from the financial ruin. The last thing he needs is any distraction coming from the kindhearted-yet-determined governess who seems to be quietly transforming his household with her persuasive personality, vibrant prayer life, and strong faith.

While both are tending past wounds and guarding fragile secrets, Julia and William are determined to do what it takes to save their families—common ground that proves fertile for unexpected feelings. But will William choose Julia’s steadfast heart and faith over the wealth and power he needs to secure Highland Hall’s future?

Find The Governess of Highland Hall online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

Read the introduction to The Governess of Highland Hall below:

Click here to find The Governess of Highland Hall and other great Christian fiction in my Amazon shop!

The Space Between Words 2

Throwback Thursday | The Space Between Words by Michele Phoenix

It’s Throwback Thursday! Today I’m resharing my review of The Space Between Words by Michele Phoenix, an amazing dual timeline novel set in France in 1695 and 2015. Have you read it?

About The Space Between Words

“There were seconds, when I woke, when the world felt unshrouded. Then memory returned.”

When Jessica regains consciousness in a French hospital on the day after the Paris attacks, all she can think of is fleeing the site of the horror she survived. But Patrick, the steadfast friend who hasn’t left her side, urges her to reconsider her decision. Worn down by his insistence, she reluctantly agrees to follow through with the trip they’d planned before the tragedy.

“The pages found you,” Patrick whispered.

“Now you need to figure out what they’re trying to say.”

During a stop at a country flea market, Jessica finds a faded document concealed in an antique. As new friends help her to translate the archaic French, they uncover the story of Adeline Baillard, a young woman who lived centuries before—her faith condemned, her life endangered, her community decimated by the Huguenot persecution.

“I write for our descendants, for those who will not understand the cost of our survival.”

Determined to learn the Baillard family’s fate, Jessica retraces their flight from France to England, spurred on by a need she doesn’t understand.

Could this stranger who lived three hundred years before hold the key to Jessica’s survival?

Find The Space Between Words online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

My Review

The Space Between Words starts in Gatingy, France, with Adeline Baillard as the narrator.

It’s 1695, the time of the persecution of the Huguenots, those Protestants who refused the King’s orders to convert to Catholicism. The story then skips forward to 2015, to a first-person account from thirty-four year-old Jessica. Jessica is living in Paris with her friends Patrick and Vonda.

They are about to leave Paris to go touring around Southern France. First, they decide to celebrate with one last night of fun. Vonda suggests a concert at the Bataclan nightclub.

On 14 November 2015, the night of the real-life massacre.

I read The Space Between Words in June 2017, in the week after the London Bridge attack and the benefit concert for the victims of the Manchester attack. That brought home all the more the horror and confusion of the Bataclan bloodbath.

I don’t’ want to say any more about the plot because *spoilers*.

Instead I’ll say this is Jessica’s story. It’s about searching for what has been lost. About finding hope in the midst of  loss. It’s also a story of struggle and courage and faith, especially Adeline’s faith and that of her fellow Huguenots. It’s inspiring.

The story has a strong spiritual thread. This is mostly in the past words of Adeline Baillard, but also in the present conversations between Jessica and her companions. It’s not a “traditional” Christian novel in that the main characters aren’t Christians

But there is a definite faith journey.

 

It reminds me of The Writing Desk by Rachel Hauck, The Long Highway Home by Elizabeth Musser, and The Five Times I Met Myself by James L Rubart. The writing was strong, and the story unpredictable (in a good way).

I recommend The Space Between Words for those looking for a novel with depth.

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

About Michele Phoenix

Author Photo: Michele PhoenixBorn in France to a Canadian father and an American mother, Michèle is a consultant, writer and speaker with an international perspective. She taught for 20 years at Black Forest Academy (Germany) before launching her own venture advocating for Third Culture Kids. Michèle travels globally to consult and teach on topics related to this unique people group. She loves good conversations, mischievous students, French pastry, and paths to healing.

Find Michele Phoenix online at:

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Read the introduction to The Space Between Words below: