25 May 2017

Book Review: All of You by Sarah Monzon

Great Dual-Timeline Story!


All of You is book two in Sarah Monzon’s Carrington Family series, following Finders Keepers. I haven’t read the first book, but it didn’t matter—this worked well as a standalone novel.

It’s set in two separate timelines. In the present day, ex-Navy pilot Michael Carrington is trying to rebuild his life after losing two limbs in a freak accident. He’s promised to look out for his friend’s baby sister. Vintage airplane restorer Jacqueline Rogers doesn’t want or need his help, but sees he might need hers.

The past story is set in England, in 1944, where American Alice Galloway has joined the Air Transport Auxiliiary, ferrying military aircraft around England and occasionally beyond. Flying planes is dangerous, but that’s not the most dangerous thing …

I enjoyed both timelines, although it did take a while for me to work out the link between them (logic said there has to be a link, right?). Anyway, I figured it out in the end, and it made perfect sense. But I think I enjoyed the contemporary story more, because I liked those characters best.

I thought Jack’s occupation was fascinating. I’ve visited more than my share of airplane museums, and while my husband and son might like the modern fighters, I’m more like Jack—interested in the older planes and the history that goes with them. I’m also fascinated by the varied and dangerous roles women have held over the years, so Alice’s story was interesting as well.

Michael was a great character. His accident has left him having to completely rethink his life and career, and that gives him a great character arc. It’s not so much that he’s mad at God. More than he’s wondering why God allowed this to happen. But it does mean he’s still in Maryland and can watch out for Jack. Because she needs it, whether she acknowledges it or not.

I read an early draft (thanks for the shout-out, Sarah!). I’m looking forward to rereading it as the final version—although maybe this time I’ll read Finders Keepers first. Recommended for contemporary Christian romance fans, military heroes, and those who like dual timeline stories.

You can find out more about Sarah Monzon at her website, and you can read the introduction to All of You below:


23 May 2017

Book Review: Swazi Sunrise by Donna Chapman Gilbert

Amazing True-Life Story

Swazi Sunrise is the story of missionaries Lula Glatzel and Harmon Schmelzenbach. They left America in 1907, bound for southern Africa on what must have felt like a one-way trip into the great unknown. But they both believed God had called them to minister to the African people, despite the distance and the likely hardships.

The first quarter of the story follows their sea journey to Africa via Southampton, England, and the development of their relationship. I knew from the Acknowledgements before Chapter One that Lula and Harmon were going to get married, and that they were pioneering missionaries to Swaziland (a small African kingdom just north of South Africa). This meant the first quarter was a little slow, as I was waiting for what I knew would happen (and I say that as someone who loves a good romance novel).

The pace picked up in the second quarter as Lula and Harmon arrive in Africa, marry, and journey to what will become their African home. Aspects of their story weren’t unlike stories of pioneers in America or other countries—endless travel in a covered wagon, geographic isolation, food shortages, lack of medical care, and general deprivation. Lula and Harmon bore all their hardships with good grace, knowing they were doing the work they had been called to.

The best part of this story is that it’s based on fact.


Lula and Harmon were real people, and their faith and legacy is inspiring. They toiled tirelessly, through threats and turmoil, including attacks on their property. The insight into Swazi culture was fascinating, especially the parallels between their beliefs and the Christian faith.

I was saddened when I read about some of the African customs, like not breastfeeding a baby for the first four days of life—we now know that’s the most important time, because the milk is full of antibodies and essential nutrients.

But I laughed when Harmon was complaining about “those awful avocado pears.” I love avocado, although I know they are an acquired taste, and would have been even more so when Harmon was in Swaziland (and they are also full of important nutrients).

The writing wasn’t necessarily as strong as in some novels I read, but this was more than made up for by the compelling true-life story. Recommended.


Thanks to the author for providing a free ebook for review. You can read the introduction to Swazi Sunrise below:


18 May 2017

Book Review: A Love So True by Melissa Jagears

A Historical Romance with an Edge

If David Kingsman had any chance of making his father proud, this next decision would be it.
David Kingsman is in Teaville, Kansas, to sell the A. K. Glass factory on behalf of his father. But he soon decides the business has more potential than his father realises, and that it would be better for them to build the business up before selling. Meeting Evelyn Wisely may or may not have anything to do with his desire to stay longer in Teaville …

Evelyn Wisely is not interested in men. Instead, she’s dedicated her life to working with her parents in the town orphanage, and to working with the children of the red light district. She’d like to reach out to their mothers as well, to give them a way to escape, but she can’t do that alone. She needs the help of local businessmen. Men like Mr Kingsman.

A Love So True is the third book in the Teaville Moral Society series, following Engaging the Competition (a novella, which I haven't read), and A Heart Most Certain (a novel, which I have read and reviewed). However, A Love So True can easily be read and enjoyed as a standalone novel. Even if you have read A Heart Most Certain, you’ll find a lot has changed in Teaville, as A Love So True is set three years later.

I thought A Heart Most Certain was excellent, and A Love So True is just as good. It’s historical romance, but historical romance with a difference. It’s not the rosy version of history painted by many Christian fiction authors. This version has all too many fallible characters, especially those stuck in the red light district. But it’s also an illustration of Christianity, of the need for Christians to shine God’s light into those dark places. As Evelyn comments, many people are only a couple of bad choices away from such a fate.

Recommended for those who like historical romance, and for those who like their fiction to have an edge of reality while still reflecting and reinforcing the Bible’s teaching.

Thanks to Bethany House Publishers and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Melissa Jagears at her website, and you can read the introduction to A Heart Most Certain below: