How do you choose which books to review?
Good question! I am a reviewer of Christian and inspirational fiction, essentially meaning, I only review books which feature faith as a major theme and are “clean” reads (no inappropriate content). My favorite genres are Biblical fiction, historical fiction, and contemporary romance. Many books get sent to me for review by publishers, Some authors have reached out to me through a variety of different ways like social media or e-mail to request reviews, which I either accept or decline based on the book, genre, or my relationship to the author (For instance, if someone writes to me asking for me to review their non-Christian Fiction, science fiction novel, there’s a good chance I will politely turn down that offer, as I don’t review that kind of fiction). But even so, a good amount of the books I feature are books I have purchased with my own money that truly interest me!
Where can I find your reviews? What about your other blog posts?
Well, while I repost all of my reviews to major sites like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads, the easiest place to find my reviews is right here on my blog! You’ll notice that I have my blog sorted into three categories: Reading, Writing, and Living. If you click on the Reading category, you’ll be able to see all of my book reviews! Likewise, writing advice and posts about my writing are featured in the category Writing, and lifestyle posts under the category Living.
So are you a reviewer? Or an author?
I like to think of myself as both (although I haven’t been published, yet)! As an aspiring author myself, I know exactly how important reviews are to authors, both traditionally and self-published. When I’m not writing books of my own, I’m busy supporting the publication of other books by writing reviews and promoting authors on my Instagram @jennavanmourik.
Who are your favorite authors?
Oooh, tough question! Is it alright if I pick a few for each genre? For historical fiction, I love Karen Witemeyer, Janette One, and Francine Rivers (Redeeming Love is a classic!). For Biblical fiction, my favorites are Mesu Andrews, Connilyn Cossette, and Tessa Afshar. Although, Lynn Austin’s Restoration Chronicles are definitely honorable mentions for thet category! I don’t read as much contemporary fiction as I would like, but I have enjoyed books by Lindsay Harrel and a little bit of Karen Kingsbury’s work (mainly her standalone novels). Of course, I can’t talk about contemporary fiction without mentioning my amazing friends who write contemporary, Audrey Bodine and Cleopatra Margot! Both are amazing self-published writers pursuing their passions and using the talents that God gave them.
What’s your current work-in-progress about? Will it be published anytime soon?
I’m glad you asked! My untitled novel is a Biblical fiction novel set during the time of Christ. Here’s what I’ve worked up for the synopsis so far:
Growing up in the midst of Jerusalem, Shamira’s family has experienced oppression like none other. Her cousin Libi, born with a handicap, has not been able to find healing in any medicine, and the prayers and sacrifices her parents make on her behalf have made no difference. Her aunt and uncle bear the burden of shame every day, having been told that it is their sins which caused their only daughter to be born with such an affliction. Shamira’s sister is found to be barren, and disgraced because of it. Worst of all, Shamira herself is a woman. A girl whose opinion holds no sway, and whose thoughts have no value.
Asa, the son of a temple priest and love of her life, is her oldest friend outside of family, but although it is the desire of her heart, she may never be able marry him due to her social status. Shamira, born into a lowly shepherd’s family, and Asa are only further separated as political tensions rise in their city. Shamira longs for a world where women are judged by their spirit, not just by their dowry.
Ultimately, she finds life in the strict community in Jerusalem suffocating. Day after day, she is left feeling empty. Ignored. Mistreated.
All of that changes when a mysterious Rabbi enters the city. Shamira grew up hearing her grandfather tell tales about the time he was watching his flock outside of Bethlehem, and angels appeared to him proclaiming that a savior was coming. With the arrival of the teacher from Nazareth, she wonders if this could be the Messiah her grandfather so often spoke of. This man teaches about a new kind of life, he teaches forgiveness, love, and acceptance – a message which could change the life of Shamira and everyone she knows.
Jesus of Nazareth brought light to their darkness. However, when tragedy strikes in the form of Crucifixion, Shamira and her family wonder if that light still shines. Will Shamira find a new life and a new faith? Or reject is as so many others in her community already had? Will Asa join her in following this new man’s teachings, or will he remain skeptical, even in the face of miracles?
I’ve finished the drafting process, and I’m currently in the editing phase! I haven’t decided whether or not I’ll self-publish, or pursue traditional publication. Either way, I’m seeking God’s inspiration every step of the way!