Category Archives: Christian

Review: Appalachian Song by Michelle Shocklee

Title: Appalachian Song by Michelle Shocklee
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Genre: Historical (40s, 70s), Christian Fiction
Length: 339 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through LibraryThing


Forever within the memories of my heart.

Always remember, you are perfectly loved.

Bertie Jenkins has spent forty years serving as a midwife for her community in the Great Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee. Out of all the mothers she’s tended, none affects her more than the young teenager who shows up on her doorstep, injured, afraid, and expecting, one warm June day in 1943. As Bertie and her four sisters tenderly nurture Songbird back to health, the bond between the childless midwife and the motherless teen grows strong. But soon Songbird is forced to make a heartbreaking decision that will tear this little family apart.

Thirty years later, the day after his father’s funeral, Walker Wylie is stunned to learn he was adopted as an infant. The famous country singer enlists the help of adoption advocate Reese Chandler in the hopes of learning why he was abandoned by his birth parents. With the only clue he has in hand, Walker and Reese head deep into the Appalachian Mountains to track down Bertie Jenkins, the midwife who holds the secrets to Walker’s past.

For fans of historical and Southern fiction comes a poignant story of love and sacrifice set in the heart of Appalachia, from award-winning author Michelle Shocklee.
Full-length Christian historical fiction
Standalone novel
Book length: approximately 94,000 words
Includes discussion questions for book groups


Appalachian Song by Michelle Shocklee is a heartwarming novel that delves into adoption and the meaning of family.

The Jenkins’ sisters are very kind-hearted and willing to care for the stranger than turns up at their home. They also have a strong faith that extends to explaining Bible verses to anyone who is open to the word of God. Teenager Songbird is selfless as she makes a heart-wrenching decision about her baby.

Thirty years later, a rising country star’s entire world is turned upside down by his mom’s shocking revelation. After struggling with anger, depression and questions about his identity, he asks for assistance from a midwife who is an adoption advocate. Working together, they uncover the stunning truth about his past.

Appalachian Song by Michelle Shocklee is an emotionally compelling of hope and faith. The characters are incredibly well-drawn and quite appealing (except a couple of notable people). The storyline is engaging with the chapters alternating between events in 1943 and 1973. Michelle Shocklee brings this moving novel to a sweet conclusion.

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Filed under Appalachian Song, Christian, Historical (40s), Historical (70s), Michelle Shocklee, Rated B+, Review, Tyndale House Publishers

Review: After She Falls by Carmen Schober

Title: After She Falls by Carmen Schober
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Genre: Contemporary, Christian, Romance
Length: 352 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


She’s always had that fire in her. She just needs to find it again.

Strong-willed Adri Rivera nearly achieved her goal of being a professional mixed martial artist, but then she fell in love with a man who knocked all the fight out of her. When their abusive, tumultuous relationship finally comes to a head, Adri flees with their young daughter to her small hometown in the mountains of Pennsylvania. There, she must face the people she left behind and put her broken life back together again.

A hardened Max Lyons can’t believe Adri is back in town after abruptly cutting him and everyone else off years ago. Despite the distance that grew between them, he feels compelled to help her regain her independence and offers her a job at his gym. But regaining each other’s trust is another matter, made even more complicated by the lingering spark between them. As Adri dares to pursue her dream again, she trains for a big tournament with Max’s help, but they’ll both have to confront their own doubts in order to rise victorious.


After She Falls by Carmen Schober is a heartwarming Christian novel of new beginnings, healing and love.

After years of abuse, Adri Rivera finally realizes her husband, Owen Anders, is not going to change. She seizes the opportunity to leave with her young daughter Eva and returns to her small hometown in rural Pennsylvania. Her beloved Uncle Roman welcomes them with open arms and gives her the space and time she needs to begin to recover. Jobs are scarce so Adri reluctantly works for her former best friend Max Lyons who has yet to forgive her for breaking his heart. With plenty of encouragement from her new co-workers and her uncle, Adri decides to give her dream of becoming an MMA fighter another shot. With Max agreeing to temporarily coach her, will she achieve her goal? And can Max finally forgive Adri for hurting him so deeply years earlier?

Adri grew up in an abusive household and her mother abandoned her when she was a little girl. Her aunt and uncle were thrilled to raise her but Adri always closely guarded her heart. With Roman’s encouragement, she put in many hours working toward becoming an MMA fighter. Growing up, Max was her best friend and their relationship gradually turned into romance. But when Adri meets Owen, she seizes the chance to leave her small-town roots behind her. Unfortunately, she soon realizes she made a terrible mistake, but for the sake of her daughter Adri decides to stay with him.

Max never planned to become an MMA fighter. But with his heart broken by Adri, he throws himself into fighting. He eventually turns to coaching, but he soon moves back to Sparta to open a gym. Max is restless when Adri shows up with Eva and he reluctantly hires her to work for him. He is not at all enthusiastic about coaching her, but he is willing to put aside his reservations until she can find a new coach.

After She Falls is a captivating novel of faith, family and starting over. Adri holds her emotions in her check and finds it difficult to talk about her problems. Her newfound faith is a large part of her healing process and this leads to a few issues with Max who is not religious. Their relationship is precarious and it does not take much to put them at odds. With a charming cast of characters and a unique storyline, Carmen Schober’s debut novel is well-written, engaging and quite engrossing. Readers are sure to fall in love with this heartfelt romance.

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Filed under After She Falls, Bethany House Publishers, Carmen Schober, Christian, Rated B+, Review, Romance

Review: Freedom’s Song by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Title: Freedom’s Song by Kim Vogel Sawyer
Publisher: WaterBrook
Genre: Historical, Christian, Romance
Length: 352 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Her voice made her a riverboat’s darling—and its prisoner. Now she’s singing her way to freedom in this powerful novel from the bestselling author of The Librarian of Boone’s Hollow.

Indentured servant Fanny Beck has been forced to sing for riverboat passengers since she was a girl. All she wants is to live a quiet, humble life with her family as soon as her seven-year contract is over. So when she discovers that the captain has no intention of releasing her, she seizes a sudden opportunity to escape—an impulse that leads Fanny to a group of enslaved people who are on their own dangerous quest for liberty. . . .

Widower Walter Kuhn is overwhelmed by his responsibilities to his farm and young daughter, and now his mail-order bride hasn’t arrived. Could a beautiful stranger seeking work be the answer to his prayers? . . .

After the star performer of the River Peacock is presumed drowned, Sloan Kirkpatrick, the riverboat’s captain, sets off to find her replacement. However, his journey will bring him face to face with his own past—and a deeper understanding of what it truly means to be free. . . .

Uplifting, inspiring, and grounded in biblical truth, Freedom’s Song is a story for every reader who has longed for physical, emotional, or spiritual delivery.


Freedom’s Song by Kim Vogel Sawyer is a heartfelt historical Christian romance.

Due to Fanny Beck’s wondrous singing ability, she and her family secured passage from Scotland to America. The only catch? She is indentured to riverboat captain Sloan Kirkpatrick for seven years. When her contract is about to expire, Fanny learns Kirkpatrick has no intention of setting her free. She is planning to leave when she takes advantage of an unexpected opportunity to escape. Fanny is aided by an on the family of slaves who are seeking their own freedom. She in turn helps them reach safety but she must now figure out a new way to reach her family in New York. When her luck runs out, Fanny meets widowed farmer Walter Kuhn who welcomes her offer to take care of his young daughter Annaliese.

Once Fanny realizes her family has been taken advantage of by Kirkpatrick, she begins planning her departure. Although she has been exposed to people from many walks of life, her faith remains strong. Fanny is a determined young woman but she is very touched by the enslaved family who is seeking their own freedom. She refuses to leave them behind and does all she can to aid them during their journey. When Fanny meets Walter, she is initially cautious but he quickly wins her over by his gentle care of Annaliese. She is grateful for the chance to earn the money to continue her travels. But Fanny does not realize how much she will come to care for both Annaliese and Walter.

Walter is stricken with guilt over his wife’s death. Although he deeply loves his deceased wife, he agrees to ask his parents to send him a mail-order bride. Walter is incredibly grateful when Fanny agrees to take care of Annaliese. Her gentle care and abiding faith slowly work their way into his heart but is there any future for them since Walter has given his word to marry the woman his parents pick for him?

Freedom’s Song is a captivating novel with a bucolic setting and appealing characters. Fanny is very sweet with an incredibly strong faith. Walter is a little shy and insecure yet very protective of the people he cares about. Kirkpatrick is a bit of a villain but he does undergo some character growth. With a late in the story complication, Kim Vogel Sawyer brings this beautiful historical romance to a very heartwarming conclusion.

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Filed under Christian, Freedoms Song, Kim Vogel Sawyer, Rated B+, Review, Romance, WaterBrook

Review: The Gathering Table by Kathryn Springer

Title: The Gathering Table by Kathryn Springer
Publisher: Love Inspired Trade
Genre: Contemporary, Christian, Women’s Fiction
Length: 332 pages
Book Rating: A

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


From USA TODAY bestselling author Kathryn Springer comes a tale of starting over when life takes an unexpected turn.

Winsome Lake, Wisconsin, is postcard-pretty, but for chef Jessica Keaton it’s also a last resort. Fired from her dream job, Jess is starting over as a live-in cook and housekeeper. When she arrives, she finds her new employer is in rehab after having a stroke, and Jess expects she’ll be all alone in Elaine Haviland’s quaint house. A chef with no one to cook for.

But instead, she encounters a constant stream of colorful visitors who draw her back into the world. As Jess contends with local teenagers, a group of scrappy women and a charming football coach, Elaine faces some battles of her own that extend past her physical challenges. For both of them, all the ingredients for a fulfilling life are within reach, if they’re willing to take a leap. And maybe Jess will start to see that it’s not just what’s on the table that matters—it’s the people gathered round it.

A must-read novel from Love Inspired: Stories to Uplift and Inspire.


The Gathering Table by Kathryn Springer is a heartwarming novel of new beginnings, friendship and faith.

Jessica “Jess” Keaton is at an unexpected low point when she loses her job as a personal chef. Answering an ad in the paper, she is hired by Elaine Haviland as a cook and housekeeper. With little to lose and hopefully much to gain, she sets out for Winsome Lake, WI. The town is picturesque and Elaine’s neighbors are friendly, but the last thing Jess wants or needs are close relationships. She also tries to keep popular high school teacher and coach Nick Silva at arm’s length. However,  he and everyone else slowly slip past her defenses. When an unanticipated opportunity comes her way, will Jess take a risk and keep the new life she is starting to love but fears trusting?

Jess’s previous employment arrangement was perfect for her. She was able to keep everyone at a distance and she hopes her new job will work the same way. Jess relies only on herself and she keep her emotional wall firmly in place as she meets Elaine’s eclectic neighbors. The women are warm and inviting and she cannot help becoming invested in their lives. When Elaine finally comes home, Jess suddenly hopes things won’t work out because she feels extremely uncomfortable by how deeply invested she has become in her new friends. And Jess is also concerned about how much she enjoys Nick’s company. But can she exchange her suddenly full life for another version of her former safe, but empty, one?

Elaine is very frustrated by all of the health setbacks that prevent her from returning home. She is also avoiding a decision that needs a resolution sooner rather than later. Elaine has begun to depend on former military chaplain Matthew Jeffries’ visits which leave her feeling happier and more settled. She is looking forward to seeing her friends and meeting Jess face to face.  Once she does, Elaine is surprised by how little her life before her stroke seems to fit her now.  But is she willing to make the necessary adjustments in order to find happiness?

The Gathering Table is a heartfelt novel with a gentle undercurrent of faith. The characters are richly developed and very relatable with all too human foibles and hidden (to them) strengths. The storyline is very well-developed with themes that are sure to resonate with readers. As the story unfolds, Jess and Elaine experience considerable personal growth as they conquer their fears. With unanticipated conflict to resolve, Kathryn Springer brings this sweet, thought-provoking novel to an incredibly gratifying conclusion.

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Filed under Christian, Contemporary, Kathryn Springer, Love Inspired Trade, Rated A, Review, The Gathering Table, Women's Fiction

Review: The Gold in These Hills by Joanne Bischof

Title: The Gold in These Hills by Joanne Bischof
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Genre: Contemporary, Historical, Christian, Women’s Fiction
Length: 335 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


One wild and mysterious ghost town. Two second-chance love stories. And the century-old legacy that binds them together.

Upon arriving in Kenworthy, California, mail-order bride Juniper Cohen is met by the pounding of the gold mine, an untamable landscape, and her greatest surprise of all: the kind and loving man who awaits her. But when the mine proves empty of profit, and when Juniper’s husband, John, vanishes, Juniper is left to fend for herself and her young daughter in the dwindling boomtown that is now her home.

Juniper pens letters to her husband but fears she is waiting on a ghost. Perhaps worse, rumors abound claiming the man she loves could be an outlaw. Surviving in a ghost town requires trusting the kindness of a few remaining souls, including the one who can unlock the mystery of her husband’s disappearance—and Juniper’s survival depends not only upon these friends but also the strength of heart she must fight to maintain.

Present day. Trying to escape the heartache of his failed marriage, Johnny Sutherland throws himself into raising his children and restoring a hundred-year-old abandoned farmhouse in what was once known as Kenworthy, California, in the San Jacinto Mountains. While exploring its secrets he uncovers Juniper’s letters and is moved by the handwritten accounts that bear his name—and as a love story from the past touches his own world, Johnny might discover yet that hope and resilience go hand in hand.

With The Gold in These Hills, acclaimed and beloved author Joanne Bischof returns with an absorbing masterpiece of faith, perseverance, and love that changes the course of history.


The Gold in These Hills by Joanne Bischof is a captivating Christian novel that seamlessly moves back and forth in time.

In 1902, Juniper Cohen fiercely misses her husband, John. She and their three-year-old daughter Bethany wait for his return but Juniper is beginning to lose hope. She has no idea where he is or what he is doing. With the mines closed in their small town, most everyone has moved away. She still ekes out a living washing clothes for the single men who decide to remain in Kenworthy. Juniper is a strong woman who left her family behind when she answered a mail order bride advertisement. She deeply loves her taciturn husband, but she is brokenhearted when she learns his deepest, most shameful secret. What their marriage survive in the aftermath of this shocking discovery?

In the present, Johnny Sutherland still coming to terms with his unexpected divorce. With his soon-to-be ex-wife keeping the family home, he purchases a historic home which is more than 100 years old. Johnny becomes interested in the home’s history as he renovates it and makes plans for some much needed updates. As he learns what happened to John and Jupiter, he slowly begins to recover from the stunning changes in his life. Johnny’s young children also help him heal as they navigate their parents’ separation with grace and his new home with curiosity and wonder.

The Gold in These Hills is an absolutely enthralling novel that is impossible to put down. Juniper’s situation is heartbreaking as she awaits word for John. She is positively floored by the revelations and she is uncertain about their future. Johnny’s story arc is compelling as he tries to make sense of life without his former wife. His interest in the history of his home proves to be vital to moving through his grief at the loss of his marriage. The secondary cast of characters is colorful and their circumstances add depth to the storyline. Joanne Bischof gently weaves elements of faith into both story arcs in a way that is natural and greatly enriches the overall story.

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Filed under Christian, Contemporary, Historical, Joanne Bischof, Rated B+, Review, The Gold in These Hills, Thomas Nelson Publishing, Women's Fiction

Review: The Letter Keeper by Charles Martin

Title: The Letter Keeper by Charles Martin
Murphy Shepherd Series Book Two
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Genre: Contemporary, Christian, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 320 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Combining heart-wrenching emotion with edge-of-your-seat tension, New York Times bestselling author Charles Martin explores the true power of sacrificial love.

Murphy Shepherd has made a career of finding those no one else could—survivors of human trafficking. His life’s mission is helping others find freedom . . . but then the nightmare strikes too close to home.

When his new wife, her daughter, and two other teenage girls are stolen, Murphy is left questioning all he has thought to be true. With more dead ends than leads, he has no idea how to find his loved ones. After everything is stripped away, love is what remains.

Hope feels lost, but Murphy is willing to expend his last breath trying to bring them home.


The Letter Keeper by Charles Martin is a reflective yet, action-packed mystery. This newest addition to the Murphy Shepherd series can be read as a standalone but I recommend reading the first book for important backstory.

Murphy Shepherd and his mentor Bones are Anglican priests who also rescue victims of human trafficking.  Murphy is taking some much-needed time off from his latest case when he is injured after someone attempts to kill him. His recovery takes place in Colorado at the safe compound he and Bones have built. Surrounded by his loved ones, Murphy reflects on his past decisions, his deep love for his first wife and his compulsion to save the unsavable.

Murphy is no stranger to loss or sacrifice. He and Bones will go to any lengths to rescue then provide a safe haven for those who fallen prey to human traffickers. Although Murphy has yet to forgive Bones for his unexpected betrayal, their lives are very closely intertwined. With a new woman to love, will Murphy finally make peace with his past?

Murphy and Bones are also attempting to figure out who tried to kill Murphy. They are also uncertain whether this person will try again. With security on high alert, they go about their daily lives as Murphy regains his strength. Just as Murphy is moving on to the next phase in his life, his loved ones are taken from him. Will he and Bones find them before it is too late?

The Letter Keeper is an absolutely riveting mystery with an engrossing storyline. Murphy and Bones are multi-layered characters with true to life strengths and weaknesses. The other characters are richly developed whose recovery from their pasts remains a work in progress. Murphy’s new love is heartwarming but not without a few obstacles to overcome. With pulse-pounding urgency, Charles Martin brings this suspenseful novel to a jaw-dropping conclusion. Old and new fans of the Murphy Shepherd series will be impatiently awaiting next installment due to a stunning revelation.

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Filed under Charles Martin, Christian, Contemporary, Murphy Shepherd Series, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Suspense, The Letter Keeper, Thomas Nelson Publishing