21 April 2017

Friday Fifteen: Pamela Poole

This week I'm pleased to welcome author Pamela Poole to share her Friday Fifteen—the fifteen authors who have most influenced her life and work. Welcome, Pamela!

Fifteen Authors that Changed My World

I grew up when classics were still revered as required reading in school, so they shaped me at an impressionable time. Looking back, I’m grateful that such powerful literature filled my heart and mind, in contrast to the book market of today.

Christ will always be first in my life for every role model, and His words have molded me as no other author can. Scripture is the sieve through which I filter my comparisons of worldviews and morality, and it inevitably influenced the choices I settled on for this post.

1.      Robert Louis Stevenson
I love anything by Stevenson, but the two books that often still come to play in my life are Treasure Island and A Child’s Garden of Verse. I truly admire this man, for he conquered the pitiless adversary of chronic illness and used the forced periods of rest to write books that contributed immeasurably to the world. He’s also a terrific example of how writers can enthrall audiences by creatively crafting rough characters and situations to make them readable without course language.

2.      James Herriot
When I was a teenager, I babysat for a professor and his wife who lived across the street from me. They introduced me to James Herriot’s work by giving me All Creatures Great and Small. Herriot’s true accounts of his escapades as a veterinarian in the English countryside were profoundly insightful peeks into human nature, and he told them in ways that left me gasping in laughter!

3.      Margaret Mitchell
This author’s classic story of the war-torn South has always been a favorite for me because of her fascinating characters in Gone With the Wind, though I personally think that she failed readers in the ending. The line that shocked so many was also the point where Rhett had a chance to shine as a hero, but he fell, and Mitchell left readers unfulfilled. I’m so glad another author, Alexandra Ripley, came through in the 1990’s with the sequel, Scarlett. The sequel was satisfying in her redemption of Scarlett and Rhett.

4. Jane Austen
I know, this is predictable. But on so many levels, she is the ultimate in classy romance writing.

5. Catherine Marshall
Christy was the novel that opened my teenage eyes and heart to the need for missionary work in the mountains not far from my own home. She also taught me that romantic love doesn’t conquer all.

6. Jules Verne
I love adventure, and Around the World in Eighty Days is unforgettable!

7. Lew Wallace
Ben-Hur, a Tale of Christ was a story that deeply affected me, and the movie adaption is still one of my all-time favorite Biblical tales. This profoundly moving story covers almost every universal situation in one timeless epic.

8. C.S. Lewis
Narnia, Mere Christianity, and the Screwtape Letters are truly books to study, not just read through.

9. J.R.R. Tolkien
The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are gold mines of life truths and encouragement for spiritual battles.

10. Bram Stoker
Many people don’t realize that the original Dracula is written from a deeply Christian perspective, and that we battle spiritual “monsters” every day. Hollywood deviations are far from the spirit of Stoker’s masterpiece.

11. Frank Peretti
This Present Darkness gave me new eyes to imagine the dimension of the spiritual battles I already knew were raging around us.

12. Robert Whitlow
The List was another nudge for me in the direction of Southern fiction and the spiritual dimension behind so much that happens in our lives, sometimes for generations.

13. Jeanette Windle
This author’s missionary background and the way she crafted rough, dark settings and characters into art, rather than communicate with offensive words, inspired my writing style. Crossfire and DMZ are so well written that she’s been interviewed by governments about her knowledge of the settings!

14. Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye
The Left Behind series was eye-opening for my family, for we were reminded of the impact that scripture could have when presented in a dramatic story.

15. Edgar Rice Burroughs
While there is a wide gap between this author’s outlook and philosophies compared to my own, he created an amazing character in Tarzan. Derivatives of this novel stirred my imagination for years, and a few elements from it influenced Jaguar, my latest novel release in the Painter Place Saga. My worldview of Tarzan leans toward marveling at God’s provision for a man whose only environment in his formative years was survival in the jungle, and how the man’s reactions play out with the Biblical truth that we are not evolved from animals but created in God’s image, with His moral truth stamped into our very essence of heart, soul, and mind.

About Jaguar, Painter Place Saga Book 3

Caroline and Chad Gregory are happy on their island home at Painter Place. But an old vendetta against them puts Caroline in terrible danger. Her enemies are closing in, and the future of Painter Place is at stake. Her only hope of escape is a man known as the Jaguar, a legendary international operative and Caroline’s one-time boyfriend. Even if he and a miracle can save her, Caroline will never be the same sheltered woman who has been groomed from childhood to inherit the island.

About the Author
Pamela Poole’s love for the South inspires all her books and paintings, and is why she describes her work as Inspiring Southern Ambiance. She became an author after endlessly returning unread books to the library and her son challenged her to write the kind of novel she wanted to read. She and her husband Mark live in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA. She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and ACFW-NC.

Where to Find Pamela Online
Main Website: www.pamelapoole.com
Southern Sky Publishing Website:
YouTube Channel:

20 April 2017

Book Review: Above Rubies by Keely Brooke Keith

Back in the Land in the 1860’s

Above Rubies is the second book in Keely Brooke Keith’s Uncharted Beginnings series. It is set in the 1860’s, two years after the settlers arrive in The Land.

The story focuses on Olivia Owens, who has a calling to be a schoolteacher. Unfortunately, the people of Good Springs don’t see the need for formal teaching—they need their children to be contributing to building the settlement. And they certainly don’t see the need for a dedicated schoolhouse. It seems the only person supporting Olivia is carpenter and flirt Gabe McIntosh.

And Olivia has a secret (all good characters have a secret). If people knew her secret, they’d never let her teach their children. Because Olivia has what we now call dyslexia: some days she can read words, and some days the monster comes and mixes up all the letters. And who’d want a teacher who can’t read?

Above Rubies was an enjoyable read. I liked the interplay between Olivia and Gabe, both in terms of their developing personal relationship, and the way he supports her to achieve her dreams.

The one fault was that the ending was somewhat abrupt. I’d been thinking there were a couple more chapters when the book just finished—the remaining pages were teaser chapters from The Land Uncharted.

Above Rubies is a standalone novel, although it’s probably best to read Aboard Providence first, so you understand the background and family relationships. However, it’s not necessary—all you need to know is the community have settled an uncharted island, and have no way of leaving.

A must-read for all Keely Brooke Keith fans, and anyone who enjoys historical Christian romance.

Thanks to the author for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Keely Brooke Keith at her website, and you can read the introduction to Above Rubies below:

13 April 2017

Review: Behind the Scenes by Jen Turano

A New Series from Jen Turano

Jen Turano is one of my favourite Christian historical romance authors. I love her characters, her witty dialogue, and the underlying truth (Truth) in her novels. And Behind the Scenes is no exception.

The main character is the unfortunately named Miss Permilia Griswold, member of New York’s elite, and well-known (or perhaps unknown) wallflower. The story starts at the famous 1883 costume ball given by Mr and Mrs William Vanderbilt II, an event which let the media into New York society for the first time, for better or worse. The descriptions of the ball are excellent, and my initial suspicions that the descriptions might have been a little over-the-top were allayed when I did a little research. If anything, Behind the Scenes is understated.

The story has touches of Cinderella, with Permilia as the motherless girl, a self-centred stepmother and an even more self-centred step-sister, an absent but loving father, and Mr Asher Rutherford, the owner of one of New York’s biggest department stores, as Prince Charming.

But there is also a suspense element, after Permilia overhears a death threat against Mr Rutherford … and he doesn’t believe her. This leads a quirky troupe of characters on what is best described as a merry chase as Permilia and Asher spend more and more time together as they attempt to find the source of the threat.

My one issue was that there were parts of the story I didn't quite understand, almost as if I'd missed something ... I had. I'd missed At Your Request, the free novella introducing this new series (partly because the novella didn't release until January 2017 and I couldn't resist reading this as soon as the review copy was available. In December 2016). Anyway, I suggest you don't make the same mistake.

Recommended for fans of witty historical romance.

Thanks to Bethany House and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

11 April 2017

Review: The Hidden Hours by Sara J Foster

Cover image The Hidden Hours by Sara Foster

Not Christian Fiction. 

But It's Excellent Suspense.

The Hidden Hours took me a while to get into, but once I did, I found it was gripping reading. Most of the story is told from the point of view of Eleanor, and it’s in present tense (which I always find takes me a while to get my head around). To add to the complexity, each chapter begins with a short piece from the point of view of a minor character. There are also some shifts in tense and time which took a while to get used to, but which were used to great effect.

Eleanor is an Australian in London on her OE (that’s her Overseas Experience, a rite of passage for those of us from Australia and New Zealand). She’s living with her uncle’s family, and has a temp job as a personal assistant at her aunt’s employer. The story starts the day after the company’s Christmas party, when is discovered that an executive drowned in the River Thames following the party. The police investigate, and Eleanor finds herself in the awkward situation of being one of the last to see Arabella, but having no memory of the end of the party, or of getting home. Oh, and she’s found Arabella’s distinctive engagement ring in her handbag. Oops.

So at the most basic level, the story is a whodunit. Did Arabella fall, or was she pushed? If she was pushed, by whom? By Eleanor, who can’t remember? By Nathan, Arabella’s husband and Eleanor’s boss? But it’s also a study in messed-up families. Specifically, Eleanor’s messed-up childhood which has left her with ongoing nightmares and memories which intrude on her present life, to the point where they can get mixed up.

The writing was strong, with a unique voice and excellent characters, especially Eleanor. There was a real sense of place – the setting felt authentic to me as someone who lived in London for ten years (and I liked that feeling of recognition). My only complaint is a little swearing that I didn’t feel was necessary.

Overall, excellent.

Thanks to Simon & Schuster and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.