Review: The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck by Bethany Turner

4A4BB7F7-92D3-4AE0-9E89-B4CB63426C82.JPG

Hey everybody and welcome back to another book review! I’ve been kind of slacking lately, in terms of the gap of time that occurs when I read a book and when I actually get around to posting my thoughts about that book. It doesn’t help when I’ve read like… three books in one week! I know, it’s the exact opposite of a book club and you’d think that it would be a great thing, but I’m reading faster than I can review. Hopefully, we can change that.

The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck was a book I knew I HAD to read after meeting the author, Bethany Turner, at CFRR. If you don’t know what CFRR is, CFRR or Christian Fiction Readers Retreat is an annual retreat for authors and readers to get together and talk about the thing we have in common: BOOKS.

Anyways, Bethany Turner’s sense of humor was so great in person, I knew I had to read her books. It was either that, or spend the rest of my life in a humorless void.

About the Author:

Bethany Turner is the award-winning author of The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck, which was a finalist for The Christy Award. When she’s not writing (and even when she is), she serves as the director of administration for Rock Springs Church in Southwest Colorado. She lives with her husband and their two sons in Colorado, where she writes for a new generation of readers who crave fiction that tackles the thorny issues of life with humor and insight.

For more, visit www.seebethanywrite.com.

The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck is a complicated story, so let me just share the blurb with you now before we get to deep into my thoughts:

About the Book:

“Becoming a Christian is the best and worst thing that has ever happened to Sarah Hollenbeck. Best because, well, that’s obvious. Worst because, up to this point, she’s made her very comfortable living as a well-known, bestselling author of steamy romance novels that would leave the members of her new church blushing. Now Sarah is trying to reconcile her past with the future she’s chosen. She’s still under contract with her publisher and on the hook with her enormous fan base for the kind of book she’s not sure she can write anymore. She’s beginning to think that the church might frown on her tithing on royalties from a “scandalous” book. And the fact that she’s falling in love with her pastor doesn’t make things any easier.

With a powerful voice, penetrating insight, and plenty of wit, Bethany Turner explodes onto the scene with a debut that isn’t afraid to deal with the thorny realities of living the Christian life.”

Copy of No Matter that Rivkah had fled Kedesh, lied, ... and who knows what else,This book was hilarious in a laugh-out-loud way, and I’m totally not saying that just because it was full of references to ALL OF MY FAVORITE T.V. shows. Totally.

The plot really intrigued me because I had never before seen anything like it in the Christian Fiction genre, but I thought it was extremely important for the author to tackle. Sometimes we can look at Christianity as being this easy, goody-two-shoes lifestyle that’s all butterflies and rainbows – newsflash, it isn’t. And this author writes about all of those difficult realities with such humor and wit, yet still full of positive, faith-filled messages. Between the laughs and giggles, there’s room for some serious, heart-changing conversations.

*I don’t think that this book is for younger audiences. If you’ve read the blurb, you may understand why. Some of the subject matter is a bit “mature,” if you will, and I know that I have lots of younger followers out there, which is why I’m advising you to “read responsibly” and maybe keep this one on your TBR for a few years.*Copy of Copy of We Love You A Latte!

Even so, I think that this story was fun, thoughtful, and an enjoyable read. My only detractor was that I felt like Sarah Hollenbeck could, at times, sound a little bit like a “broken record” if you will. Sometimes, her behavior felt a little bit repetitive, but that’s life also. Sometimes as Christians, we know the right thing, but we continue to do the wrong thing. In the book, I think it was just the character’s voice that kept putting me off.

Piper on the other hand, Sarah’s friend, was so real, so down to earth. She kept me rooting for Sarah the whole way through! And that ending… *swoon*

This is definitely a contemporary romance novel in the Christian Fiction genre that I don’t think you’ll want to miss!

Until next time you guys,

Happy Reading!

cropped-black-on-transparent2.png

Book Review: Until the Mountains Fall by Connilyn Cossette

Copy of 4096px × 2304px – Untitled Design.png

I have been waiting on PINS and NEEDLES to finally share this review with you guys. Okay, well, maybe not pins and needles (more like couches and pillows, because… Comfort). But you guys! I am finally sharing with you all of the thoughts on Until The Mountains Fall, the latest installment of the Cities of Refuge series by Connilyn Cossette, and it was so good I’m not even sure if I can accurately describe it. Nevertheless, I shall try!

Plus, stay tuned until the end of this post for some exciting updates about videos I will be posting to my YouTube channel in celebration of the Until the Mountains Fall release on July 2, 2019.

About the Author:

Connilyn Cossette is the CBA bestselling author of the Out from Egypt and Cities of Refuge series. Her debut novel, Counted with the Stars, was a finalist for the 2017 Christy Award, INSPY Award, and the Christian Retailing’s Best Award. She lives with her husband of twenty-one years and a son and a daughter who fill her days with joy, inspiration, and laughter. Connect with her at www.connilyncossette.com.

Now, if you don’t already know what this book is about, then be sure to catch the summary. This is a wonderful Biblical fiction release and a fantastic series that you should definitely check out!

Screen Shot 2019-06-20 at 7.20.11 PM.pngAbout the Book:

Recently widowed, Rivkah refuses to submit to the Torah law compelling her to marry her husband’s brother and instead flees Kedesh, hoping to use her talents as a scribe to support herself. Without the protections of her father, Kedesh’s head priest, and the safety of the city of refuge, Rivkah soon discovers that the cost of recklessness is her own freedom.

Malakhi has secretly loved Rivkah for years, but he never imagined his older brother’s death would mean wedding her himself. After her disappearance, he throws himself into the ongoing fight against the Canaanites instead of dwelling on all he has lost. But with impending war looming over Israel, Rivkah’s father comes to Malakhi with an impossible request.

As the enemies that Rivkah and Malakhi face from without and within Israel grow more threatening each day, is it too late for the restoration their wounded souls seek?

You guys. One of the things that I love about Biblical fiction is the hopeful thread of God’s faithfulness which is almost always woven throughout the story. If hope is a thread, then this book is a magnificent tapestry. This is by far one of the most redemptive, uplifting, powerful Biblical fiction novels I have ever read.

Copy of We Love You A Latte!-2If not the most.

This book really showcased the power of love; familial love, a father’s love, romantic love, and the love of God. I so enjoyed watching Malakhi mature from boy, to young man, and to hero. His maturity and honor, even when his honor and respect were not deserved, was refreshing in a main male character.

Although it took me a while to grow to love Rivkah, a few chapters in I was fully invested in her character and in her plight. Her struggle with submitting to God’s will even when His plans were unknown, and later, her struggle with guilt and resentment towards herself when she realized all she had lost by relying solely on herself and not on trusting others and having faith were incredibly relatable.

No Matter that Rivkah had fled Kedesh, lied, ... and who knows what else,AND YOU GUYS. THAT TWIST ON THE VERY LAST PAGE THOUGH.

*I would highly, highly, HIGHLY suggest that you read A Light on the Hill BEFORE picking this book up if you don’t want a major spoiler. Just saying.*

Finally, the story and plot of this book showcased redemption and healing like none other. I enjoyed how this book was a loose re-inventing of the Prodigal Son parable, a story which I have often related with and in different times of my life, have identified both with the son himself and with the jealous brother. While this book is not a Biblical fiction retelling of that story, the parable remains an influence on the plot and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Seriously you guys, this series gets better and better the more books that are released. The first two books in this series are called A Light on the Hill and Shelter of the Most High, both of which I have reviewed previously on the blog. Until the Mountains Fall was a beautiful story, and my favorite in the series by far. I am already marking my calendar for Like Flames in the Night, which will be the final book in the series. I’m expecting an EPIC conclusion!

Screen Shot 2019-06-20 at 9.52.34 PM.png

Until the Mountains Fall releases on July 2, 2019 and you can pre-order/purchase it by clicking THIS LINK.

You also still have time to read this AND all the other books in the series before Like Flames in the Night releases in 2020. If you’re looking for something to binge this summer, this series is it! Fast-paced, action packed, and FULL of powerful narratives of God’s faithfulness even in the darkest of times.

Now, on to the fun stuff!

You guys, I have TWO fun videos coming to my YouTube channel in celebration of this exciting release! Both are pre-recorded, so if you hear me talking about how my “review will go up soon” just know that I filmed these before I wrote this review!

The first super fun video coming is a READING VLOG! You all loved my last reading vlog for Of Fire and Lions by Mesu Andrews, so I had to bring you one for Until the Mountains Fall! This video goes live on June 21, 2019, so if you’re reading this that means that you can already click over and watch it!

The second video in my series honoring Until the Mountains Fall‘s release is a BOOKS & COOKS video and the second episode in my BOOKS & COOKS series. It’s a series I occasionally do on my channel trying to re-create historically accurate recipes based on or inspired by books. For this episode, I’m attempting to recreate a Lentil Stew inspired by the stew Moriyah made, (and later a stew made by Rivkah) in the Cities of Refuge series. This video will release next Friday, June 28, 2019. Subscribe to my channel to make sure you don’t miss it.

If you’d like to watch the first episode in the BOOKS & COOKS series, making crepes inspired by The Heart Between Us by Lindsay Harrel, then you can certainly watch that in the meantime.

maxresdefault.jpg

WHEW!

We finally made it to the end!

That’s all for reviews and announcements this week, you guys. I really hope that you enjoyed reading this review and that you’re as excited about this book as I am. Don’t forget to pre-order/purchase Until the Mountains Fall if you’re interested or add it to your Goodreads TBR.

Keep an eye out here on the blog for more book reviews (subscribe via e-mail if you’d like them delivered straight to your inbox!) and don’t forget to check out those super fun videos as they release as well.

Congratulations to Connilyn Cossette on her release! And until next time,

Happy reading!

cropped-black-on-transparent2.png