Tag: Women’s Fiction

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:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter

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:

Amazon US | Amazon AU | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

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

Quote from The Solace of Water: I thought she was pretty brave and stupid to lie to me—but it made me see her like she a real person and not some perfect Christian who never sinned.

Book Review | The Solace of Water by Elizabeth Byler Younts

The Solace of Water is not your run-of-the-mill Christian fiction.

It’s set in 1956, in the small town of Sinking Creek, Pennsylvania. The writing is excellent, with strong and original character voices. The story is told in first person from the point of view of three main characters: Emma, Delilah, and Sparrow. Each hides secrets and pain. No, this isn’t an easy read (and there should be a trigger warning for self-harm).

Emma is Amish, and has lived in Sinking Creek her entire life. She gives the outward appearance of being a submissive Amish wife, but she’s hiding secrets—her own, and her husband’s. Delilah and her family have recently moved to Sinking Creek from Montgomery, Alabama, but she finds moving doesn’t take away her troubles. Sparrow is Delilah’s daughter. Sparrow knows Delilah blames her for her brother’s death, and knows there is nothing she can do to change that.

Delilah was a difficult character to empathise with.

Sure, she’s grieving the loss of her four-year-old son, but she’s an adult. She shouldn’t blame her daughter, even if her daughter was supposed to be watching the younger children. This provides plenty of conflict between Delilah and Sparrow, and is the impetus behind both Delilah and Sparrow’s developing relationship with Emma.

Emma has her own secrets.

A drunk for a husband, a rebel for a son, and a marriage fractured by hurt. She’s intrigued by this new family in town who worship in such a different way to her, and she’s puzzled at Delilah’s reluctance to befriend her.

I think Sparrow was my favourite character.

She’s the victim, the character who has had little control over the situation she finds herself in. Now she’s struggling to be in control. She is intrigued by Emma and her son, who treat her as equals. But this is 1950s America and segregation is real, whether the physical signs are there or not.

The Solace of Water is a fascinating exploration of racial differences and prejudice set in the early years of the Civil Rights struggle. It emphasises how we’re often afraid of “different”. It shows how it’s important to understand and work through our differences—especially with other Christians.

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

About Elizabeth Byler Younts

Elizabeth Byler YountsElizabeth Byler Younts writes women’s fiction for Harper Collins/Thomas Nelson. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers. She gained a worldwide audience through her first book Seasons: A Real Story of an Amish Girl and is a RITA nominated writer. She is also the author of The Promise of Sunrise series. She has consulted on Amish lifestyle and the Pennsylvania Dutch dialect for two award-winning television shows. Elizabeth lives in Central Pennsylvania with her husband, two daughters, and a cockapoo named Fable.

FInd Elizabeth Byler Younts online at:

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter

About The Solace of Water

In a time of grief and heartache, an unlikely friendship provides strength and solace.

After leaving her son’s grave behind in Montgomery, Alabama, Delilah Evans has little faith that moving to her husband’s hometown in Pennsylvania will bring a fresh start. Enveloped by grief and doubt, the last thing Delilah imagines is becoming friends with her reclusive Amish neighbor, Emma Mullet—yet the secrets that keep Emma isolated from her own community bond her to Delilah in delicate and unexpected ways.

Delilah’s eldest daughter, Sparrow, bears the brunt of her mother’s pain, never allowed for a moment to forget she is responsible for her brother’s death. When tensions at home become unbearable for her, she seeks peace at Emma’s house and becomes the daughter Emma has always wanted. Sparrow, however, is hiding secrets of her own—secrets that could devastate them all.

With the white, black, and Amish communities of Sinking Creek at their most divided, there seems to be little hope for reconciliation. But long-buried hurts have their way of surfacing, and Delilah and Emma find themselves facing their own self-deceptions. Together they must learn how to face the future through the healing power of forgiveness.

Eminently relevant to the beauty and struggle in America today, The Solace of Water offers a glimpse into the turbulent 1950s and reminds us that friendship rises above religion, race, and custom—and has the power to transform a broken heart.

Find The Solace of Water online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

Read the introduction to The Solace of Water below:

Click here to find The Solace of Water and other great Christian fiction in my Amazon shop!

First Line Friday

First Line Friday | Week 54 | Grace in the Shadows by Christine Dillon

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 Grace in the Shadows by Australian author Christine Dillon. It’s the sequel to Grace in Strange Disguise, and I think it’s even better! Here’s the first line:

First line from Grace in the Shadows by Christine Dillon: It was love at first sight.

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

About Grace in the Shadows

Physiotherapist Esther has survived cancer, but wounds within her family remain unhealed. Is her revived faith the reason for the rift or could a simmering secret be the root cause?

Cosmetics consultant Rachel buried her past – and her father’s God – but the past refuses to stay buried. Will she continue to run or is confronting her pain the way to freedom?

Two women. Two different lives.

One collision course with truth.

Can God’s grace shine even in the darkest of shadows?

You can find Grace in the Shadows online at:

Amazon | Goodreads

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!

First Line Friday

First Line Friday | Week 10 | Grace in Strange Disguise

It’s Friday, which means it’s time to open the book nearest you and share the first line

Today I’m sharing from Grace in Strange Disguise, the debut novel from Christine Dillon:

“You have cancer.”

Acid surged in Esther’s throat. No, no, no. Impossible. She couldn’t have cancer. William Macdonald’s daughter couldn’t have cancer.

I edited Grace in Strange Disguise, which means I have already read it (and I’m anxiously waiting for my paper copy. But I’ve just had an email with the first four chapters … so it counts as my first line for today!)

About the Book

Physiotherapist Esther Macdonald is living the Australian dream, and it doesn’t surprise her. 

After all, her father has always said, “Follow Jesus and be blessed.” But at twenty-eight, her world shatters. Everyone assures her God will come through for her, but what happens when he doesn’t? Has she offended God? Is her faith too small? So many conflicting explanations. 

Will finding the truth cost her the people closest to her heart?

 

You can check out what these lovely FirstLineFriday bloggers are sharing today:

Bookworm Mama | Singing Librarian Books | Faithfully Bookish

Radiant Light | Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen

All the Book Blog Names are Taken | Robin’s Nest

Fiction Aficionado | Bibliophile Reviews | Kathleen Denly

Lauraine’s Notes | With A Joyful Noise | A Baker’s Perspective

Joy of Reading | C Jane Read | Moments Dipped in Ink

Molly’s Cafinated Reads | Romances of the Cross | Christian Fiction Girl

It’s Storytime With Van Daniker | Reading Is My SuperPower

Alicia G Ruggieri | Susan Loves Books

If you would like to join FirstLineFriday, contact Carrie at at Reading Is My SuperPower, Rachel at Bookworm Mama, Sydney at Singing Librarian Books, or Beth at Faithfully Bookish. And check out my previous FirstLineFriday posts.

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

You can find Grace in Strange Disguise online at:

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Goodreads

You can also click here to read my interview with Christine Dillon (and enter the giveaway), or click here to go directly to the giveaway page.

First Line Friday

First Line Friday | Week 4 | Since You’ve Been Gone

It’s Friday, which means it’s time to open the book nearest you and share the first line.

Today I’m sharing from Since You’ve Been Gone by Christa Allan.

My Granny Ruth says we always have choices about falling in love. So maybe you and I should have just fallen in like.

This was one of my favourite novels from 2016—I liked it so much that I bought the paperback so I could share it with friends. And now I’ve opened it to share the first line, I want to keep reading …

About the Book

One moment, Olivia Kavanaugh is preparing to walk down the aisle and embrace her own happily ever after. The next, she learns that her fiancé, Wyatt Hammond, has been in a fatal car accident. Then comes a startling discovery: Wyatt’s car wasn’t heading toward the church. He was fifty miles away…with a baby gift in the backseat.

Her faith shaken, Olivia pores over the clues left behind, desperate to know where Wyatt was going that day and why. As she begins uncovering secrets, she also navigates a tense relationship with her judgmental mother and tries to ignore the attentions of a former boyfriend who’s moved back home. But when she starts receiving letters written by Wyatt before his death, she must confront a disturbing question: Can we ever know anyone fully, even someone we love?

When an unexpected path forward—though nothing like the life she once envisioned—offers the promise of a new beginning, will she be strong enough to let go of the past and move toward it?

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Goodreads

You can check out what some of these lovely FirstLineFriday bloggers are sharing today:

Bookworm Mama | Singing Librarian Books | Faithfully Bookish

Radiant Light | Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen

All the Book Blog Names are Taken | Robin’s Nest

Fiction Aficionado | Bibliophile Reviews | Kathleen Denly

Lauraine’s Notes | With A Joyful Noise | A Baker’s Perspective

Joy of Reading | C Jane Read | Moments Dipped in Ink

Molly’s Cafinated Reads | Romances of the Cross | Christian Fiction Girl

Reviews by Van Daniker | Reading Is My SuperPower

If you would like to join FirstLineFriday, contact Carrie at at Reading Is My SuperPower. Or check out my previous FirstLineFriday posts.

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

Introducing First Line Friday | The Two of Us

First Line Friday (#FirstLineFriday or #FLF) is the baby and brainchild of Carrie Schmidt aka Meez Carrie at Reading Is My Superpower. It’s a fabulous name for a book blog, and I only wish I’d thought of it!

The premise is simple:

#FirstLineFriday

I will have to adjust that a little, as the “book” nearest me is most often my Kindle. The real books are usually either books on writing craft, or the Bible (sharing Genesis 1:1 each week could get boring).

I’ve been following the meme for a while, and I have noticed participants do tend to share the first lines of novels—specifically, Christian novels.

Today I’m sharing from The Two of Us by Victoria Bylin.

Mia Robinson couldn’t take her eyes off the man in a cowboy hat working a claw machine game, the kind where a child—or a boyfriend or father—put in a dollar and tried to grab a toy in thirty seconds or less.

I’ve played those games … and failed. But the man Mia is watching doesn’t fail … Does that whet your appetite? Keep an eye on the blog, because I’ve got a full review for The Two of Us coming up soon.

About the Book

Heartwarming and Touching New Contemporary Romance from Victoria Bylin

After two broken engagements, nurse practitioner Mia Robinson is done with dating. From now on, she only trusts herself and God, and she’s focused on her eighteen-year-old sister, Lucy, and caring for patients. Just as she applies to work for an international aid organization, a phone call from Lucy, who’s pregnant and running off to marry her twenty-one-year-old boyfriend, throws a wrench into all of Mia’s plans.

Jake Tanner may have recovered from the physical injuries he sustained on the job as a police officer, but his heart has yet to heal from losing his former partner in the tragedy. He’s poured himself into starting a camp for the sons of fallen officers and mentoring Sam, the adult son of his deceased partner, who’s asked him to be his best man at his wedding.

Mia is expecting a mess when she arrives to sort out the situation with Lucy, but she wasn’t expecting Jake. And Jake, who can’t help envying Sam and Lucy, doubts he’ll ever experience their happiness for himself. But maybe Jake’s courage and Mia’s caring spirit are just what they need to bring them a lifetime of healing and a forever kind of love …

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Goodreads

You can check out what some of these lovely FirstLineFriday bloggers are sharing today:

Bookworm Mama | Singing Librarian Books | Faithfully Bookish

Radiant Light | Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen

All the Book Blog Names are Taken | Robin’s Nest

Fiction Aficionado | Bibliophile Reviews | Kathleen Denly

Lauraine’s Notes | With A Joyful Noise | A Baker’s Perspective

Joy of Reading | C Jane Read | Moments Dipped in Ink

Molly’s Cafinated Reads | Romances of the Cross

Reading Is My SuperPower

If you would like to join FirstLineFriday, contact Carrie at Reading Is My SuperPower.

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