Review: Then There Was You – Kara Isaac

Kara Isaac. Then There Was You. Bellbird Press, 2017.

Over the last several years, I have been particularly impressed by the caliber of Christian authors.  In conducting the business of the Books and Biscuits Blog, I find myself regularly chatting with authors via email and Facebook.  This week’s book actually arrived as a complete surprise from New Zealand-based author after I asked her a simple question about her latest book release.  After reading this very impressive book, I have to send a huge “THANK YOU!” to Kara for sharing this amazing story with us. :)

Stepping away from the literary-based inspiration of her previous works, Kara Isaac introduces an entirely new set of characters in her latest release Then There Was You.  American event planner, Paige McAllister, finds herself making a drastic move to Australia after an unexpected break-up with her long-time boyfriend.  With the support and friendship of her Sydney-based cousin, Paige lands a job as the logistics planner for one of Australia’s largest churches running their international women’s conference.  Along the way, she continually encounters her boss’s son, Josh Tyler, who also happens to be a famous worship leader and musician.  With plenty of failed relationships and heartbreak between them, Paige and Josh are forced to work together when his tour manager ends up out of commission.  Together, they discover that, in spite of awkward first impressions, they just may be the perfect partnership they have been looking for all along.

New Zealand-based Christian author, Kara Isaac, brings her signature humor and storytelling prowess to this delightful story of second chances and unlikely relationships.  Fans of humorous Christian contemporary fiction will be delighted by this new release.

Overall, I was absolutely thrilled with Then There Was You!  The novel includes a compelling balance of humor and heartbreak that will leave readers laughing out loud, crying into their Kleenex, and wishing for more equally great stories by Ms. Isaac.  Paige’s perspective travelling to a new country for an extended period of time offers great moments of situational comedy, spurred on by an equally great cast of Australian colleagues who make her work life full of surprises.  Josh’s role in the novel comes across as being equally weighted to Paige, rather than taking the backseat role that so often happens to male characters in some stories.  Additionally, Paige and Josh’s extended families, friends, and colleagues offer even more brilliant moments in the novel, leaving one to wish that Ms. Isaac would write more novels that build upon this cast of characters and their world.  Regardless of what she writes next, I will certainly find myself going to great lengths to track it down and read it at the earliest opportunity.

Fans of Ms. Isaac’s previous novels will definitely want to read Then There Was You.  Additionally, readers who enjoy contemporary Christian fiction with a humorous twist will also find this novel to be well worth reading at the earliest opportunity.

Special thanks to the author for the advanced copy of Then There Was You!

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Review: Behind the Scenes – Jen Turano

Jen Turano. Behind the Scenes. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2017.

Some of my favorite and most compelling moments of reading Christian fiction have come in the form of humorous stories and characters.  Jen Turano’s novels are always an enjoyable blend of history and comedy that transport her reader to another time and place, in spite of their circumstances.

In Behind the Scenes, Ms. Turano builds upon a set of characters first introduced in her e-novella, At Your Request.  As the first full-length novel in the Apart from the Crowd series, Behind the Scenes follows the non-traditional social wallflower, Permilia Griswold.  Growing up travelling through American mines with her businessman father, Permilia finds that she shares his mind for business, in spite of her step-mother’s determined efforts to launch her into proper society.  Instead, Permilia has found a role for herself as “Miss Quill,” an accomplished society columnist for one of the New York newspapers.  During one particularly eventful society event, Permilia overhears a threat on the life of Asher Rutherford, one of New York’s most reputable gentlemen and a successful department store owner.  Out of necessity, they form an unlikely partnership to discover the source of the threat, even as they find an unexpected source of acceptance and future possibilities in one another.

Ms. Turano creates a compelling set of characters and situations that will have her readers crying out for more incredible and humorous tales.  Behind the Scenes offers a fascinating introduction to a great new historical series.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading Behind the Scenes!  Ms. Turano’s characters are surprisingly varied, even as they feel comfortable and familiar within their historical setting.  I especially enjoyed seeing how Ms. Turano built upon these characters and others first introduced in her novella, At Your Request, while offering a few sneak peaks at those that will continue to play a part in her forthcoming novels.   While some sections of the novel felt unevenly paced, as a significant portion of the story is spent at a single social event, Ms. Turano uses this structure to introduce many of the novel’s significant characters and events.  By the end of the novel, readers will be left highly satisfied with a fun and fascinating tale that breaks the mold of romantic fiction set in New York high society.

Fans of Ms. Turano’s previous historical Christian novels and novellas will definitely want to read At Your Request.  Likewise, readers who enjoy historical Christian fiction with a relatively light and humorous style will also want to check out At Your Request and the other stories in Ms. Turano’s Apart from the Crowd series.  The next novel in the series, Out of the Ordinary, will release in November 2017!

Special thanks to NetGalley and Bethany House Publishing for the advanced copy of Behind the Scenes!

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Review: At Your Request – Jen Turano

Jen Turano. At Your Request: An Apart from the Crowd Novella. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2017. Ebook.

 Books covers are always meant to catch readers’ attention.  With the recent wintry weather, the beautiful cover of Jen Turano’s e-novella, At Your Request, definitely seems appropriate to the season!

Ms. Turano begins her new Apart from the Crowd series with a free e-novella, At Your Request.  The novella follows Wilhelmina Radcliff as she navigates the world of society’s wallflowers, those young ladies who have been generally ignored by the fashionable members of society at balls and events.  Facing their own set of social rules and expectations, a chance encounter soon leads to chaos among these women, as well as a much-needed second chance.  Without her father’s previous fortune, Wilhelmina accepts her role as a social secretary, in order to help provide for her family.  When her childhood best friend, Edgar Wanamaker, returns to town with his own fortune in hand, Wilhelmina may have a chance at an entirely different future.  In spite of the shame inherent to Wilhelmina’s position as a wallflower, Edgar is determined to reverse her answer to his long-rejected marriage proposal.

Filled with Ms. Turano’s signature humor and wit, At Your Request offers a great introduction to a quirky set of characters.  The series offers a very different perspective on late nineteenth century society, even while remaining true to its roots as a compelling piece of historical Christian fiction.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading At Your Request!  In general, the novella felt quite short, even in comparison to the length of similarly-formatted stories released by Bethany House.  However, it offered a fascinating introduction to the characters and situations that will make up the Apart from the Crowd series.  Additionally, the e-novella offers an extensive sneak peak at Ms. Turano’s forthcoming novel, Behind the Scenes, which will be released in April 2017!  Altogether, the novella and excerpt offer a compelling sampling of Ms. Turano’s writing style and pacing, which are incredibly approachable to a wide and varied audience of readers.  Likewise, she showcases her humorous style and firm grasp of historical details that have made her previous works an absolute delight.

Fans of Ms. Turano’s previous historical Christian novels and novellas will definitely want to read At Your Request.  Likewise, readers who enjoy historical Christian fiction with a relatively light and humorous style will also want to try out this new series.

P.S. At Your Request is currently available for free on Amazon.  Just click on the link below!

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Review: Finding Margo – Jen Turano

Jen Turano. Finding Margo. Wheaton, IL: Gilead Publishing, 2016.

Gilead Publishing, a new Christian publisher, recently began to release its first set of books.  As a reviewer of Christian fiction, I’m very excited to be able to feature one of its first earliest releases.  Based on the excellent caliber of this book, I am very much looking forward to reading more of their great books in the future.

Acclaimed author Jen Turano turns to a contemporary setting with her latest release, Finding Margo.  The first novel in the Finding Home series, the novel follows the experiences of Margo Hartman, an overworked pop star who desperately needs to escape after a national tour.  Leaving behind an entourage of managers, advisors, and assistants, Margo drives across the country with the hopes of keeping a low profile.  An unexpected incident leaves Margo stranded in a small Amish community in Ohio.  She soon finds herself turning to local deputy Brock Moore, who has also been working undercover for the FBI to solve a local murder.  Margo’s appearance in town and her uncanny resemblance to a local Amish girl quickly triggers questions from Brock and the townsfolk, as well as drawing the nation’s entertainment media to a community otherwise filled with quilts and buggies.  When Margo’s life is threatened, the FBI takes action and sends Brock to solve a decades-long mystery tied to Margo and the small town that continually prompts her unexplained memories of her childhood.

Ms. Turano expertly balances suspense elements with laugh-out-loud moments in her inaugural release for Gilead Publishing.  Based on the expert caliber and entertainment factor of this novel, fans of great Christian fiction will be thrilled to read this and other great books from this new Christian publishing house!

Overall, I could not get enough of Ms. Turano’s Finding Margo!  I have not previously read Ms. Turano’s other novels, nor am I typically a reader of books related to the Amish and their communities.  However, I could not put down this highly entertaining novel!  Ms. Turano creates a fascinating set of characters, while drawing readers in with a complex, yet approachable, storyline.  The characters jump off the page, while fitting well within the diverse settings of the novel, ranging from over-the-top concert venues to quiet Amish farms.  Ms. Turano also creates an intriguing storyline that will make for a fascinating series of novels, while providing a conclusion that will satisfy readers even as a stand-alone book.  Based on the book overall, I honestly cannot wait to read the next novel in this series and will likely track down Ms. Turano’s other releases at the earliest opportunity!  As the first novel that I have read from Gilead Publishing, Finding Margo has a very professional-level editing and formatting style (of the e-book), above the quality of quite a few of the other e-book releases of competing publishing houses in the market.  If this is the level that one can expect to see from Gilead’s future releases, I very much look forward to reading their other books!

Fans of Ms. Turano’s other novels will greatly appreciate this book, while readers who enjoy fascinating and unique contemporary Christian fiction should definitely check out Finding Margo.  As a combination of Christian suspense elements and a humorous writing style, the novel offers an approachable and entertaining storyline that will appeal to a broad audience of Christian fiction readers.

Special thanks to NetGalley and Gilead Publishing for the advanced copy of Finding Margo!

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Amazon – Finding Margo

Review: Every Bride Has Her Day – Janice Thompson

Janice Thompson. Every Bride Has Her Day. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell, 2016.

The weather is finally starting to look somewhat like spring around here, even with this weekend’s snow.  May seems to be the unofficial start of “wedding season” and we’re celebrating with Janice Thompson’s newest release. :)

Every Bride Has Her Day picks up where Every Girl Gets Confused left off, finishing Janice Thompson’s Brides with Style series.  Katie Fisher finally received the proposal of her dreams and she cannot wait to plan her wedding and future life with her basketball star fiancé, Brady James.  However, she must first overcome the enthusiastic contribution of wedding ideas from her colleagues at Cosmopolitan Bridal, as well as her small-town family.  In the midst of her own wedding plans, Katie must also help other Texas brides plan their own perfect day, while navigating family expectations and conflicting visions at every turn.  In the months of wedding planning, Katie and Brady must also traverse an unexpectedly busy calendar of other people’s weddings, as one couple after another seem to be engaged and married in quick succession.  To make their own day a success, they must depend on God to help overcome one of the most unexpected roadblocks to their own perfect day, a chaotic falling out in Katie’s hometown.  Will the details fall in place for Katie to finally have the wedding of her dreams?

Janice Thompson wraps up another one of her great series this spring with the release of Every Bride Has Her Day.  This fun-filled novel offers more of Ms. Thompson’s humorous style and fun-filled cast of characters introduced earlier in the Brides with Style series.

Overall, I enjoyed reading Every Bride Has Her Day.  Ms. Thompson provides a worthwhile ending to the Brides with Style series, while wrapping up the many character storylines she developed throughout the novels.  Personally, I found the first book of this series to be incredibly unique and entertaining.  In comparison, Every Bride Has Her Day never quite reached that level of entertainment, as the sheer number of weddings and coupling off of characters started to weigh down the story.  I thought Ms. Thompson’s Weddings by Bella series was much stronger from the beginning to end, while still focusing on the same set of characters throughout the set of novels.  Regardless, I very much looking forward to seeing what fun and compelling series Ms. Thompson will create next!

Fans of Ms. Thompson’s work, especially the other books in the Brides with Style series, will definitely want to read Every Bride Has Her Day.  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.

Special thanks to Revell Reads Blog Tour and NetGalley for the advanced copy of Every Bride Has Her Day!

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Amazon – Every Bride Has Her Day