Monthly Archives: July 2015

Audiobook Review: Price of Privilege by Jessica Dotta

Title: Price of Privilege
Author: Jessica Dotta
Narrator: Amanda McKnight
Audio Publisher: Oasis Audio
Audio Length: 13 hours, 7 minutes
Print Publisher: Tyndale House
Published: January 2015
Genre: Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction
Series: Price of Privilege, Book 3

My Thoughts on the Story:

Jessica Dotta’s first two novels set the bar high for this series, with mysterious characters, vivid settings, and plots full of unexpected twists and turns. This final installment wraps up the series in a breathtaking and unexpected conclusion worthy of its predecessors. Taken together, Born of Persuasion, Mark of Distinction, and Price of Privilege tell a fascinating and intricately woven literary tale.

Having lived in Julia’s head for three books now, I feel like I’ve come to know her well – the good, the bad, and the ugly. I may not agree with many of her actions or even the rationale for her decisions, but both she and her mistakes felt real to me. I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with her and watching her character develop from a passive teenage girl being manipulated into making poor choices, to a more mature woman ready to face the consequences of her actions, embrace God’s grace, and pick up the pieces of her life.

And the supporting cast? So good! Hats off to Edward, Mr. Macy, Jameson, Nancy, Forrester, Lord Pierson, and more, each of whom was drawn in unique and vivid detail. But especially to Lord Isaac Dalry, who was particularly amazing in this book. You must read it to see why. But first read books 1 and 2 if you haven’t read them yet, because this series must be read in order.

Without talking specifics, let me just say that the conclusion packs some real emotional punch. And yes, I cried. But it’s worth the tears for the beautiful, complex story of unmerited love, devotion, and grace. I didn’t see the ending coming, but, looking back on the series as a whole, I can see how the groundwork was laid in bits and pieces from the very beginning. And the artistry of it amazes me.

Specific to the Audiobook:

If you’ve read my earlier reviews from this series, then you already know how much I’ve enjoyed the audio narrations by Amanda McKnight. The character voices, emotional resonance, and subtle details of her performances have been spot on, and this title is no exception. If you enjoy audiobooks or want to give them a try, then the audio editions from this series are not to be missed.

Thank you to Oasis Audio for providing an electronic copy of this audiobook for review purposes.

Quick links: About the Book (from Oasis Audio) | Author’s Web Site | Audio Sample

Find this title on: Goodreads | Audible | | christianaudio

Three for the Books: Featured Reads in Christian Fiction, July 2015

Three for the Books, July 2015

The monthly “Three for the Books” post is where I feature new (Hot Off the Presses), best selling (Topping the Charts), and award winning (Cream of the Crop) Christian fiction books. I select one title to feature in each category, as well as providing links to where you can browse additional newly released, best selling, and award winning titles. Have you read any of these featured titles? Any others you’d like to give a shout-out? Comments are always welcome!

Hot Off the Presses

Gone Without a Trace by Patricia Bradley releases this month from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. The story is third in the suspenseful Logan Point series that began with Shadows of the Past.

Quick Links: About the Book | Author’s Site | More New Releases

Topping the Charts

A Worthy Pursuit by Karen Witemeyer appears on the ECPA Christian Fiction Best Sellers list for July 2015. It released in June from Bethany House with print and electronic editions. There’s also an audio edition from Recorded Books that’s narrated by Barbara McCulloh. Check out my reviews of a couple of other historical romances by the same author: Short Straw Bride and Full Steam Ahead.

Quick Links: About the Book | Author’s Site | More Best Sellers

Cream of the Crop

Five Days in Skye by Carla Laureano is winner of the 2014 RITA Award for Best Inspirational Romance. And fans of the first will be pleased to know that the second book in the MacDonald Family Trilogy, London Tides, just released last month from publisher David C Cook.

Quick Links: About the Book | Author’s Site | More Award Winners

Book Review: The Art of Losing Yourself by Katie Ganshert

Title: The Art of Losing Yourself
Author: Katie Ganshert
Published: April 2015 by WaterBrook Press
Genre: Contemporary Christian Fiction

About the Book (publisher’s description):

Just like in my dream, I was drowning and nobody even noticed.

Every morning, Carmen Hart pastes on her made-for-TV smile and broadcasts the weather. She’s the Florida panhandle’s favorite meteorologist, married to everyone’s favorite high school football coach. They’re the perfect-looking couple, live in a nice house, and attend church on Sundays. From the outside, she’s a woman who has it all together.  But on the inside, Carmen Hart struggles with doubt. She wonders if she made a mistake when she married her husband. She wonders if God is as powerful as she once believed. Sometimes she wonders if He exists at all. After years of secret losses and empty arms, she’s not so sure anymore.

Until Carmen’s sister—seventeen year old runaway, Gracie Fisher—steps in and changes everything. Gracie is caught squatting at a boarded-up motel that belongs to Carmen’s aunt, and their mother is off on another one of her benders, which means Carmen has no other option but to take Gracie in. Is it possible for God to use a broken teenager and an abandoned motel to bring a woman’s faith and marriage back to life? Can two half-sisters make each other whole?

My Thoughts on the Book:

This is a story full of raw honesty, brokenness, grace, and hope. It’s told from two distinctive first person viewpoints. Carmen – a married woman grown distant from her husband under the strain of six miscarriages, who tries to put on a perfect façade for the outside world. And her teenage half-sister Gracie, who has run away from their alcoholic mother, in hopes of returning to a place where she once felt appreciated.

The story feels real – the characters, the situations, the emotions, the relationships, and the setting. All of it. I enjoyed coming along on the sisters’ journeys as they grow and develop in their relationships and their personal faith. And I love the fact that the characters’ problems aren’t downplayed by a too tidy ending, and yet there is a hopeful and satisfying resolution complete with an inspiring look at grace and trust.

One of my favorite parts of the whole book is when Carmen looks back at a series of what could have been seen as coincidences, and instead sees “evidence of a God who orchestrated even the most mundane details for our good” (Page 300).

Another favorite moment was when Aunt Ingrid (suffering from dementia) defends her dessert from being taken, to the point of throwing a spoon at someone, and then offers a bit of surprisingly sage advice: “’Not all things are worth saving, you know. But some are worth every ounce of fight you can throw at them.’ With all the dignity in the world, she took a few small bites of her dessert. ‘You just have to know the difference.’” (Page 53)

I brought this book along with me on a weekend trip to the beach and devoured it in the shade of a beach umbrella. Since the book was set partly at a beach-side motel, it turned out to be a particularly great fit for the weekend. I highly recommend both book and beach, taken together or separately. :)

Author Katie Ganshert’s Christy Award winning A Broken Kind of Beautiful was among my favorite reads of 2014, and this latest novel by Katie Ganshert could well be among my favorites for 2015. I think Book Groups will find it an excellent choice for discussion, and in fact, it includes a discussion guide.

Thank you to WaterBrook Multnomah for providing a paperback copy of this book as part of the Blogging for Books Program in exchange for my honest review.

Quick Links: About the Book | Goodreads | Amazon

Christian Fiction Book Club Connection, July 2015

Book Club Connection

Welcome to the July 2015 edition of the Christian Fiction Book Club Connection. Thanks for stopping by! Whether you’re a pastor or ministry leader thinking of forming a book discussion group at your church, a current member of a book club, or simply a fan of Christian fiction hoping to connect with other readers, you’re in the right place. Please consider subscribing to my blog so you won’t miss future posts.

Today I’m providing information on Christian fiction discussions scheduled to take place around the web this month (including a club I only recently discovered). I’m also featuring a handful of recently released Christian fiction titles for which a discussion guide is available, either included in the book itself or on the author’s or publisher’s web site. Then I’ll wrap up the post with a discussion question I’d like you to chime in on.

Online Discussions Coming Up This Month

The ACFW Book Club‘s July selection is Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Beth Vogt, with discussion scheduled for July 27-August 1, 2015. You can subscribe to the group’s e-mail list now, by following the instructions on their Web site, to be sure not to miss any announcements or discussion questions.

The Cherished Book Club hosts discussion on their Facebook group, with weekly questions about a monthly Christian fiction or non-fiction read. Their selection for July is Chateau of Secrets by Melanie Dobson (details here).

For July, the Christian Fiction Devourers group on Goodreads is discussing Dangerous Passage (Southern Crimes #1) by Lisa Harris AND Saving Amelie by Cathy Gohlke. Grab your copies and head on over to the discussion forum to check in with others who are in the midst of reading these books.

The Fans of Christian Romance Goodreads group is reading Flora’s Wish (The Secret Lives of Will Tucker #1) by Kathleen Y’Barbo for its July discussion.

The #HedlundChallenge2015 features discussion of one of author Jody Hedlund’s historical fiction novels each month. The discussion is hosted in alternating months by Jamie of Books and Beverages and Cassie of Bookshelves and Windows. For July, participants will be discussing The Doctor’s Lady at Cassie’s blog beginning July 28, 2015 (discussion details here and here).

For fans of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, Jamie of the Books and Beverages blog hosts a monthly Inklings discussion series. Sometimes fiction, sometimes non-fiction, the title for the month of July is The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien. Discussion is scheduled to begin on July 15.

Recent Christian Fiction Releases Featuring Discussion Guides

Love’s Rescue by Christine Johnson (June 2015, Revell, Historical Romance)

Love Arrives in Pieces by Betsy St. Amant (June 2015, Zondervan, Contemporary Romance)

The Wonder of You by Susan May Warren (July 2015, Thomas Nelson, Contemporary Romance)

Let’s Chat!

I recently stumbled across an online Christian book discussion group that I was previously unfamiliar with (and you’ll see the Facebook-based Cherished Book Club listed among the others above for the first time this month). I’ve also been exploring a new-to-me resource site of interest to Christian book clubs called The Book Club Network.

I’m sure there are other online clubs and resources out there that I haven’t discovered yet. Do you happen to know of any other online clubs I should be including in my monthly discussion listings here? Or of any Web sites or books that are particularly helpful for book discussion groups? I’d love to hear about them!