Review: Love in the Details – Becky Wade

Becky Wade. Love in the Details: A November Wedding Story. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2015. Ebook.

Here at The Books and Biscuits Blog, I love to support great Christian authors and their incredible works of fiction. When I found out that Becky Wade (one of my favorite authors) was releasing a novella through Zondervan, I jumped at the chance to review it. :)

In Becky Wade’s Love in the Details, Holly has remained in Martinsburg, Texas, for her entire life, with exception to her heartbreaking years in college. Through it all, she has never forgotten her high school sweetheart, Josh, who had a once-in-a-lifetime chance to break out of their small town through a scholarship to M.I.T. She broke up their relationship to guarantee his future success, but her heart remained broken nonetheless. Eight years later, Josh returns to Martinsburg for his best friend’s wedding and comes to discover that Holly is the church’s wedding coordinator. With the opportunity to team up for the time prior to the wedding, Josh and Holly must overcome their history to ensure the success of their friends’ wedding and rehearsal dinner. Older and wiser, they rediscover the importance of God’s timing in their lives and the second chance that they have to determine their own futures.

Ms. Wade consistently brings the larger-than-life world of Texas to her readers through heartwarming and wonderfully unique stories that capture the hearts of her characters. Love in the Details furthers the Year of Wedding series, while pushing the quality of the stories to a higher level than those found elsewhere.

Overall, I quite enjoyed reading Love in the Details. The novella is no exception to Ms. Wade’s excellent storytelling. If anything, the shorter length of the novella format fails her. In 93 pages, Ms. Wade manages to create a compelling story, complex characters, and a town filled with details that deserve a far deeper storyline. However, I found myself wanting far more from the story, in keeping with Ms. Wade’s other books and her proclivity to develop multiple, interlinking novels that capture her characters and their unique sense of place.

Fans of Ms. Wade’s other works will definitely enjoy this novella. In addition, readers who consistently appreciate the Year of Weddings novella series by Zondervan will want to read the November edition. Love in the Details remains true to Ms. Wade’s style and pacing, as well as her ability to capture the humor apparent in everyday life and relationships.

Special thanks to NetGalley and Zondervan for an advanced copy of Love in the Details!

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Amazon – Love in the Details: A November Wedding Story (A Year of Weddings Novella)

Review: Every Girl Gets Confused – Janice Thompson

Janice Thompson. Every Girl Gets Confused. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell, 2015.

Do you ever find yourself reading a book that hits surprisingly close to home? Maybe it’s not the characters, the setting, or even the storyline, but somehow the underlying theme captures your attention. That feeling best summarizes my absolute fascination with Janice Thompson’s latest novel.

Every Girl Gets Confused continues where Janice Thompson’s Brides with Style series left off at the end of Every Bride Needs a Groom. Told from the perspective of small-town girl, Katie Fisher, Every Girl Gets Confused follows the quirky coworkers of Cosmopolitan Bridal as they cope with an over-abundance of brides following their successful feature in Texas Bride magazine. Katie attempts to balance her family life in her hometown with managing a Black Friday sale for the history books. In the meantime, the love of her life, Brady James, faces one of his greatest fears as his injury may mean the end of his NBA career. When Katie’s ex-boyfriend reinserts himself into her life, she must choose between escaping into the world of her picturesque hometown or continuing to fight for her future with Brady in Dallas. With the help of her family and friends, Katie must depend on God to stay focused during life’s ever-changing seasons.

Overall, I definitely enjoyed reading Every Girl Gets Confused. Ms. Thompson remains true to her humorous writing and first-person storytelling style, while building upon the ever-fun and fascinating cast introduced in Every Bride Needs a Groom. However, she adds a more serious underlying theme, focusing on God’s consistency in the good and bad times. Drawing from her family’s own experiences with grief and hardship, Ms. Thompson offers a realistic depiction of God’s faithfulness and mercy, interspersed with her special brand of humor and loveable characters. The novel bridges Ms. Thompson’s earlier novel and forthcoming works that continue the series. As a result, some readers may prefer to read the books in order, rather than as stand-alone works. Personally, I read Ms. Thompson’s series in order, as a result of her incredible ability to create a world unto itself that builds upon her prior novels’ characters, plots, and settings. Every Girl Gets Confused is no exception to that rule, as the book’s primary conflict develops from events described extensively in Every Bride Needs a Groom. I would definitely recommend the work as part of the series and I look forward to seeing the next chapter of Katie and Brady’s story in the next book of the Brides with Style series.

Fans of Ms. Thompson’s work, including the Weddings by Bella and Weddings by Design series, will love Every Girl Gets Confused! Readers who enjoy works by Sandra Bricker and similarly humorous Christian fiction authors may also want to add Ms. Thompson’s series to their list of must-read books. Every Girl Gets Confused makes for a welcome addition to the Brides with Style series, which will continue with a third book in 2016!

Special thanks to NetGalley and Revell for the advanced copy of Every Girl Gets Confused!

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Amazon – Every Girl Gets Confused: A Novel (Brides with Style)

Review: The Girl from the Train – Irma Joubert

Irma Joubert. The Girl from the Train. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2015.

This week’s book arrived to me as a complete surprise from the publisher. In all honesty, I’m not sure if I would have picked up the book from a store or library. When it landed on my front porch, it suddenly became a worthwhile book to try. After reading it, I’m certainly thrilled to have the opportunity to share it with all of you!

Irma Joubert’s novel, The Girl from the Train, had been an international bestseller in South Africa and The Netherlands before arriving here in the United States. Translated for the first time into English, the novel is now being released by Thomas Nelson and HarperCollins Christian Publishing. In the midst of World War II, young Gretl Schmidt escapes from a train heading toward Auschwitz. Despite the help of a picture of her German SS soldier and her Lutheran baptismal certificate, Gretl’s Jewish grandmother was her only means of identity. Hiding the truth of her past becomes essential to her survival. On her perilous journey toward safety, she meets Jakob Kowalski, a young Polish man determined to free his country from the grips of other nations. On his family’s farm, Gretl finds a delicate form of shelter, but the war and her hidden identity each continue to touch her life in countless ways. The realities of communism encroach on Gretl’s life, forcing Jakob to send her to an orphanage in Germany with the hopes that she is relocated to the safety of a Christian family in South Africa. After years of ever-changing languages, names, and religious identity, Gretl’s life in Africa seems idyllic. However, she must finally determine for herself who she really is by coming to grips with her unique past.

Overall, The Girl from the Train could be summarized in one word: brilliant! After reading Christian historical fiction and scholarly monographs on related subjects for years, this novel is the first I would distinguish in the rare caliber of literature. Ms. Joubert accomplishes a rare feat in fully engaging her readers with a timeless story of perseverance and faith in the midst of exceptional trial. Additionally, she brings to life the incredible stories of Poland’s Home Army, Germany’s war orphans, and the racial and political persecution that perpetuated the challenges faced by the real-life individuals personified in Gretl’s character. Perhaps of most interest to Christian fiction readers, the novel reveals the fascinating lengths that religious identity played within the period, especially as Gretl is forced to change her affiliations as a result of family, politics, and war to survive. In the moment when Gretl’s South African adopted father denies the existence of the Holocaust, without realizing his own daughter’s heritage or wartime experiences, The Girl from the Train became one of the most compelling books of the year. Personally, I think The Girl from the Train has the potential to be this generation’s answer to Bryce Courtenay’s The Power of One, capturing the human experience and personifying it within a character’s ability to overcome some of history’s greatest challenges.

Fans of Christian historical fiction, especially as related to the Second World War and European history, will find The Girl from the Train to be an absolutely fascinating read. In comparison to many other World War II-era works being recently released, I found the writing, historical research, and overall development of the characters to be much more complex and compelling. That advantage may lead some readers to consider the novel to be more dense and challenging to read than other books in the genre. Personally, I believe that this book is well worth that effort and should be considered one of the finest books of the year!

Special thanks to Thomas Nelson and the Fiction Guild for the advanced copy of The Girl from the Train!

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Amazon – The Girl From the Train

Review: Toward the Sunrise – Elizabeth Camden

Elizabeth Camden. Toward the Sunrise: An Until the Dawn Novella. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2015. Ebook.

Lately, I’ve come upon an entire wave of great e-novellas being released by Christian publishers. It’s been an excellent opportunity to see some spectacular short-form writing by some of my favorite authors outside of their typical annually-released novels. After reading this most recent story, I am very excited to share it with all of you, including an opportunity to get a free copy of your own!

As a prequel to the much anticipated novel, Until the Dawn, Elizabeth Camden releases Toward the Sunrise as an exclusive e-novella. This exciting story offers an intriguing peek into the residents of a Hudson River Valley town that is responsible for caretaking a long-abandoned historic estate. Julia Broeder grew up in the groundskeeper’s cottage of Dierenpark with dreams of traveling the world as a medical missionary. Ashton Carlyle shares Julia’s infatuation with the Far East, but he found stability working as a lawyer for the Vandermark family’s shipping empire. With strict instructions from the elder Vandermark to meet the needs of the Dierenpark staff, especially the Broeder family, Ashton provided Julia with the opportunity to attend the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania. However, Julia finds herself expelled from school and in need of assistance from Ashton once again if she has any hope of being re-admitted. Together, Julia and Ashton must navigate the expectations of the Vandermarks and the college’s Board of Trustees, while remaining true to their own hopes and dreams for the future.

Overall, I thought Toward the Sunrise was a fascinating read and a great example of Ms. Camden’s work in the historical fiction genre. She brings a level of complexity and vividness to her plot, characters, and setting that challenges the common perception of novellas as a lesser form of storytelling. Toward the Sunrise remains true to Ms. Camden’s previous full-length novels, with a similar pacing and style. Additionally, it continues to build upon her excellent skills as an author celebrated for her ability to present excellent historical research and details within the Christian fiction genre. The novella proves once again that Ms. Camden continues to push the boundaries of Christian historical fiction through her exploration of lesser-known, yet fascinating, elements of American history.

This novella also sets the stage for Ms. Camden’s novel, Until the Dawn, which begins several months after the events of Toward the Sunrise. The novel builds upon the characters and settings introduced in the novella, with additional focus on the Dierenpark estate and the mysterious Vandermark family. Several of the main characters of Until the Dawn make cameo appearances within the novella and their development within the novel itself makes for breathtaking storytelling! Based on the extended preview of Until the Dawn included with Ms. Camden’s e-novella, I am very excited for its release in December 2015!

Fans of Ms. Camden’s other novels will definitely want to pick up their own copy of Toward the Sunrise! Likewise, readers of other Christian historical fiction authors should read the novella as an opportunity to try a different writer than they normally read. Some readers may actually find the novella format of Ms. Camden’s writing to be more accessible than her other novels, due to the story being significantly shorter and somewhat less complex than her typical books. Personally, I am a huge fan of Ms. Camden as a result of the complexity of her characters and stories. However, I think that Toward the Sunrise offers a great compromise that will be appealing to an even broader audience of historical fiction readers.

Special thanks to Bethany House Publishers for a promotional copy of Toward the Sunrise!

P.S. Toward the Sunrise is currently available for free on Amazon. Just click on the link below!

Looking for this book? Support the Books and Biscuits blog, while shopping at:
Amazon – Toward the Sunrise: An Until the Dawn Novella