Monthly Archives: September 2014

Book Discussions in Christian Fiction, October 2014

Book Discussions in Christian FictionOctober has been dubbed National Reading Group Month.  If you love reading, but don’t regularly participate in a book discussion club, what better time to start!

Check out your local libraries, bookstores, and churches to connect with an in-person book discussion group, or consider forming one of your own with a few friends.

And if you’re looking for an online discussion, I’m featuring links below to some discussions happening this month that may interest you.

While you’re here, consider following my blog for recommended books, discussion questions, monthly links to online discussions, book group tips, and more for fans of Christian fiction.

ACFW Book Club

  • The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron.  October 20-25 via email list.  I already have my copy in hand and I’m looking forward to reading it!

Inklings Discussion Series on Books and Beverages

  • The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.  Discussion begins October 15th.

Christian Fiction Devourers (GoodReads Group)

Fans of Christian Romance (GoodReads Group)

Christian Fiction Book Club on Facebook

  • To be announced.

Audiobook Review: Princess Ever After by Rachel Hauck

Title: Princess Ever After
Author: Rachel Hauck
Series: Royal Wedding, Book 2
Print Publisher: Zondervan
Audio Publisher: Oasis Audio
Narrator: Eleni Pappageorge
Genre: Contemporary Christian Romance
Published: 2014

If you saw my blog post last week, then you already know how much I loved listening to the audio edition of Rachel Hauck’s Once Upon a Prince.  If not, feel free to go check it out now, and then consider subscribing to my blog so you won’t miss out on future fun.  😉

Okay, back to hear what I thought of the second book in the Royal Wedding series?  Sweet!  Let’s get started.

Book Description (From the Oasis Audio Web site):

Regina Beswick didn’t know she was born to be a princess.

She’s content to be a small-town girl, running a classic auto restoration shop, unaware that a secret destiny awaits her. One that will leap from the pages of her grandmother’s hand-painted book of fairy tales.

Tanner Burkhardt is the stoic minister of culture for the Grand Duchy of Hessenberg. When he is tasked to retrieve the long-lost princess, he must overcome his fear of failure in order to secure his nation’s future — and his own.

Yet lurking in the political shadows is a fierce opponent with sinister plans to abolish the throne forever.

Overwhelmed with opposition, Regina must decide whether she’s destined to restore old cars or an ancient nation. Together — with a little divine intervention — Regina and Tanner discover the truth of her heritage and the healing power of true love.

My Thoughts on the Story:

Princess Ever After is a delightfully lighthearted read, with some meaningful themes woven in amongst the fun.  Having just finished reading Once Upon a Prince, I spotted a number of parallels between the two stories, but this one still felt fresh, with enough twists and variations on the ordinary girl to princess theme to keep me happily engaged in Regina’s story.  In fact, I’d say the combination of familiar elements with new variations makes this the perfect second book for this series, and I suspect fans will love this one too.

Tanner and Regina make for interesting and relatable main characters, with their flaws, fears, quirks, and dilemmas.  The story also features some great secondary characters, and I particularly enjoyed the passages from Princess Alice’s diary, which gave glimpses into Hessenberg’s past and that of Regina’s family.

I thought the romance went – to borrow a phrase from the book – from “zero to sixty” a bit quickly and I think I might’ve liked to see a little more page time devoted to showing the development of Reggie and Tanner’s feelings toward each other.  That said, this is meant to be a modern day fairy tale, and I do think it fits that bill perfectly despite, or maybe because of the whirlwind romance.  The ending in particular is spectacular in exactly the ways a fairy tale should be, and I was willingly whisked along, enjoying every minute of the ride from beginning to end.

My favorite themes from the book are the ideas of restoration (applied in several contexts) and of overcoming fear of the unknown to take a leap of faith when necessary.  Oh, and the scene in the grand ballroom is pretty spectacular.  You’ll know what I mean when you get to it.  :)

If you enjoy a good lighthearted read every now and again, this book will definitely be worth the read.  Especially if you’re a fan of modern day fairy tales.

My Thoughts on the Narration:

As she did with Once Upon a Prince, Eleni Pappageorge has done a superb job narrating this book.  Her renditions of Tanner’s British-ish accent and Regina’s southern drawl were a delightful complement to an already excellent story.  I particularly liked the narrator’s attention to detail, right down to giving a melody to songs characters sang, and making her voice sound like a character speaking through an intercom when the text called for it.  Book 3 in the series, How to Catch a Prince, is scheduled to release in February 2015, and I will definitely be on the lookout for the audio edition!

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

Audiobook Review: Once Upon a Prince by Rachel Hauck

Title: Once Upon a Prince
Author: Rachel Hauck
Series: Royal Wedding, Book 1
Print Publisher: Zondervan
Audio Publisher: Oasis Audio
Narrator: Eleni Pappageorge
Genre: Contemporary Christian Romance
Published: 2013

Once Upon a Prince is the first book I’ve read — or listened to — by Rachel Hauck and I want to read more. Starting of course, with Princess Ever After (next in her Royal Wedding series).

Book Description (from Oasis Audio’s Web site):

A royal prince. An ordinary girl. An extraordinary royal wedding.

Once Upon a Prince, the first novel in the Royal Wedding series by best-selling author Rachel Hauck, treats you to a modern-day fairy tale.

Susanna Truitt never dreamed of a great romance or being treated like a princess — just to marry the man she has loved for twelve years. But life isn’t going according to plan. When her high-school sweetheart breaks up with her instead of proposing, Susanna scrambles to rebuild her life.

The last thing Prince Nathaniel expects to find on his American holiday to St. Simons Island is the queen of his heart. A prince has duties, and his family’s tense political situation has chosen his bride for him. When Prince Nathaniel comes to Susanna’s aid under the fabled Lover’s Oak, he is blindsided by love.

Their lives are worlds apart. He’s a royal prince. She’s an ordinary girl. But everything changes when Susanna receives an invitation to Nathaniel’s coronation.

It’s the ultimate choice: his kingdom or her heart? God’s will or their own?

My Thoughts on the Story:

This sweet contemporary romance is all fairy tale, and I enjoyed every minute of it.  The premise itself requires some suspension of disbelief, but the payoff is a fun and lively story complete with a dream-come-true happily ever after ending.

What girl wouldn’t love the idea of being swept off her feet by a prince who’s ready and willing to come to her rescue, who’s not above getting his hands dirty with honest work, and who sees something special in her that even she can’t explain?

From the beaches of St. Simon’s Island, Georgia to the grand ballrooms of Brighton Kingdom, the settings are lovely and really emphasize just how different Nathaniel and Susanna’s backgrounds are.  And to watch each exploring and getting to know the other’s world?  Priceless.

Besides the sweet romance, there’s also a faith thread woven throughout.  Both hero and heroine must rely upon their faith, and recognize the importance of seeking God’s call for their lives and being ready and willing to go and do what He calls them to, even when things don’t seem to be headed in a direction they’d prefer.

Of course, in the end… well, you can probably guess.  But the journey along the way is an entertaining one full of misunderstandings, paparazzi, tricky political entanglements, barbecue ribs, and of course, true love.  Well worth the journey.

My Thoughts on the Narration:

Yes.  Just yes.

If you’re even thinking about going with the audiobook edition of this book, then go for it.  I absolutely loved the contrasting accents the narrator, Eleni Pappageorge used for Susanna and Nathaniel.  From distinctly Southern to classy British, the accents fit the dialog and the characters perfectly and brought them to life for me.  With clear enunciation and excellent pacing, the narrator made listening easy.  Both male and female voices were well done, and the narration blended into the background, highlighting and adding an extra dimension to an already beautiful tale.

Enjoyed this review?  Come back next week for my review of the audio edition of Princess Ever After – next in Rachel Hauck’s Royal Wedding series.  Or consider subscribing to my blog so you won’t miss a thing!  Meanwhile, what do you think?  Is this a series you’d like to start reading?  Or maybe you already have?  Either way, please take a moment to share your thoughts in the comments.  Or just say hello.  I love hearing from other readers… and listeners!

September 2014: New Releases in Christian Fiction and Upcoming Book Discussions


September means back to school, right?  In my case, my firstborn just started Kindergarten (Where did the time go?).  Oh, and there are tons of great books being released this month too.  I think I have my reading cut out for me!

Want to participate in an online book discussion?  Keep scrolling past the latest releases to see what Christian fiction titles are being discussed this month.  Know of an online book group that discusses Christian fiction that’s not on this list?  Please let me know!

So, what do you think?  Do you see some titles here that you really want to read?  I’d love it if you’d take a moment to share your thoughts in the comments section at the end of this post.

New Releases in Christian Fiction

Amish / Mennonite / Quaker


Contemporary Romance


Historical Romance

Holiday Fiction

Men’s Fiction


Romantic Suspense

Women’s Fiction

Young Adult

Category Romance: Heartsong Presents

  • Campaigning for Love by KD Fleming
  • Ozark Wedding by Helen Gray
  • Arizona Cowboy by Jennifer Johnson
  • The Marshal’s Pursuit by Gina Welborn

Category Romance: Love Inspired

  • Her Montana Twins by Carolyne Aarsen
  • Small-Town Billionaire by Renee Andrews
  • Her Hometown Hero by Margaret Daley
  • The Deputy’s New Family by Jenna Mindel
  • Rescuing the Texan’s Heart by Mindy Obenhaus
  • Stranded with the Rancher by Tina Radcliffe

Category Romance: Love Inspired Historical

  • The Gift of a Child by Laura Abbot
  • A Home for Her Heart by Janet Lee Barton
  • Cowboy to the Rescue by Louise M. Gouge
  • His Most Suitable Bride by Renee Ryan

Category Romance: Love Inspired Suspense

  • Desperate Measures by Christy Barritt
  • Wilderness Target by Sharon Dunn
  • Sunken Treasure by Katy Lee
  • Rancher Under Fire byVickie McDonough
  • Star Witness by Lisa Phillips
  • Danger at the Border by Terri Reed

Upcoming Christian Fiction Discussions

ACFW Book Club

Inklings Discussion Series on Books and Beverages

Christian Fiction Devourers (GoodReads Group)

  • Hidden (Sisters of the Heart, Book 1) by Shelley Shephard Gray
  • Just Jane (Ladies of History, Book 2) by Nancy Moser.

Fans of Christian Romance (GoodReads Group)

Christian Fiction Book Club on Facebook

Book Review: Angels Walking by Karen Kingsbury

Title: Angels Walking
Author: Karen Kingsbury
Publisher: Howard Books (Simon & Schuster)
Series: Angels Walking, Book 1
Genre: Christian Fiction, Contemporary Romance

Karen Kingsbury has a real talent for crafting characters, situations, and scenes that tug at a reader’s heartstrings.  Her most recent book, Angels Walking, is first in a new series and does exactly that.

About the Book (from publisher, Howard Books):

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Karen Kingsbury comes the first in a brand-new series about second chances—a dramatic story about a washed up baseball player, the love he left behind, and the miracles that might save them both.

When former national baseball star Tyler Ames suffers a career-ending injury, all he can think about is putting his life back together the way it was before. He has lost everyone he loves on his way to the big leagues. Then just when things seem to be turning around, Tyler hits rock bottom. Across the country, Tyler’s one true love Sami Dawson has moved on. 

A series of small miracles leads Tyler to a maintenance job at a retirement home and a friendship with Virginia Hutcheson, an old woman with Alzheimer’s who strangely might have the answers he so desperately seeks.

A team of Angels Walking take on the mission to restore hope for Tyler, Sami, and Virginia. Can such small and seemingly insignificant actions of the unseen bring healing and redemption? And can the words of a stranger rekindle lost love? Every journey begins with a step.

It is time for the mission to begin…

My thoughts:

Tyler and Sami are each striving for perfection in some area of their lives. The weight of unmet expectations and sacrifices made in other areas of their lives has separated them and changed them each in detrimental ways since they first met and fell in love. This book explores restoring broken relationships, regaining faith, and discovering that God really can bring good things out of what may look like impossible situations.

I loved the way the romance played out. The gradual reconnection and uncertain hope made sense given the circumstances. And there were a few heartrendingly wonderful scenes that made me long for things to work out for Tyler and Sami. They really did seem perfectly suited for each other.

Another element I enjoyed was the complex intertwining of the various characters’ lives. It was neat to watch how seemingly insignificant interactions could add up to have a big impact in the long run.

I was a little less enthusiastic about the scenes from the angels’ perspectives. The angels felt a bit more human than I expected, with their doubts and uncertainties about the future. Plus, I felt like the premise of their mission had (maybe unintended?) theological implications that I didn’t necessarily agree with. The idea that there’s one specific child not yet born who will be a great teacher and that “The salvation of countless souls depends on this child” (from the Prologue) seemed a little off to me. I’m not an expert or a theologian by any means, but it’s my understanding that God can and does use anyone willing, to achieve His purposes, and empowers them to do what’s necessary. The idea that God’s plans can’t go forward if one particular person isn’t born? Not sure I’m buying it.  Then again, I may be reading more into this than was intended.

All nitpicking aside, I did thoroughly enjoy the story, and the idea that there’s more at stake than just the hearts and souls of Tyler and Sami themselves is an appealing one, so I’m not going to complain too loudly on this point.

I’m definitely curious to find out how this angelic team’s future missions will go and to learn more details about what they’re trying to achieve and why. The epilogue in particular piqued my curiosity about what comes next in the series. Sounds like the next book could turn out to be a really exciting one.

My favorite parts of this installment were the touching and emotionally stirring scenes included.  There were a few points where I found myself crying.  The storytelling made me really empathize with the characters, feeling their fears, regrets, and disappointments right along with them, which made me want to root for them all the more.

A big thank you to Howard Books for supplying an advance reader copy of Angels Walking through Netgalley for purposes of this review. I would gladly recommend this book to fans of Karen Kingsbury’s other books and to anyone who enjoys a good story centered around the themes of grace and reconciliation.

If you have a minute, and you’re not already rushing to go out and purchase the book (or even if you are), check out the book trailer for this one.  It’s very well made with a great sound track and images, and seems true to the book.