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Reflections on the #AtoZChallenge

by Donna Huber For the A to Z Challenge, I discussed different book genres/categories. Each day, I gave a few details about the genre/catego...

February 3, 2017

Setting Up Your Story

by Chris

Last month, I wrote about the importance of character development and writing about characters that are relatable, in some small way, to the audience. I used ‘people’ loosely; your character could be a sentient fish for all it matters, as long as they have some train of thought or flow to their consciousness. I said that ultimately, it’s people that are important to a story since people are the driving force behind everything we do: it’s what makes a story interesting.

However, people can’t exist in a vacuum, and the place and setting of the story are often equally important. Unless you’re writing literally an inner monologue, your story presumably takes place somewhere, and at some time, and these things will ultimately influence the way your characters think, feel and behave. The things your characters might do in 1860s London are going to be significantly different to what they might do in 1970s New York, and this extends beyond obvious anachronisms—we all know they didn’t have fax machines in the Victorian era, but even the language and behavior towards fellow characters are going to be different.

In many cases, writers might even think of a setting before they think of a main character; such was the case when I started writing The Redemption of Erâth. I actually had the idea of a fictitious fantasy world long before I came up with the concept of a main character mired by darkness and despair, and to this end, my world-building was the primary focus during the early years of writing this series.
It stands to reason, then, that at least as much thought ought to be given to where our characters do what they do as is given to what they do and why they do it.

As a (primarily) fantasy writer, often the first choice I have to make when approaching a new project is whether to set the story in the real world, a fantasy world or somewhere in-between. There are, of course, numerous notable examples of both in the fantasy genre: The Lord of the Rings clearly set the gold standard for ‘high fantasy’ (set entirely in a fictitious world), while the Harry Potter series remains a remarkable example of a story set partway between the real world and an imagined one.

Other genres don’t have this liberty; while fantasy and sci-fi have the advantage (and burden) of creating entirely new worlds, many other stories, including crime fiction, romances, and contemporary fiction have to make do with a world our readers are already familiar with. (Historical fiction sits in an interesting in-between, where the setting is often real, but the action is fictitious—sometimes to the point of altering history.) In this regard, sometimes the setting becomes less important than the characters and their plights; while Stephen King likes to set many of his stories in rural Maine, I don’t know if this setting is necessarily mandatory for his plots—tales such as IT or The Tommyknockers realistically could be set anywhere that such towns could exist.

In this regard, a writer is often faced with a choice: knowing (to an extent) their audience, they can choose to fictionalize somewhere their readers will know well, or set it somewhere that, whilst still real, most people would know very little about. When I first read Bridge to Terabithia as a child, I was easily able to imagine the woods and streams that Jesse and Leslie frequented, for I had grown up in a similar type of environment. The same was true of To Kill a Mockingbird, for although I didn’t grow up in 1930s Alabama, I was able to envision the setting through Harper Lee’s detailed descriptions of the town, and experiences in similar small-town settings.

When I first read Dracula, on the other hand, I was at the mercy of Bram Stoker’s descriptions of the count’s castle and the gothic Carfax Abbey, for I had little knowledge of these kinds of places. To this extent, I was relying on believable fiction—it didn’t matter to me if Transylvania really had such castles or not, as long as I could believe they did, and could envision them in my mind.

These settings are important because they often set the tone and mood of the story as much as the character’s thoughts and actions do. Inasmuch as writing a story is about convincing the reader to feel something, we as humans are often moved by our surroundings as much as we are by what happens to us.

But how do you go about creating a setting without being ham-fisted about it? How do you let your audience know just when and where your story takes place? In film, this is (relatively) easy: the audience is likely to see the setting long before they are introduced to the characters (think long, panning shots of landscapes, overhead views of cities, etc.). Novels sometimes have a harder job, especially if the book blurb doesn’t set the scene itself because we’re often launched into action with little preliminary background.

If you’re writing a screenplay, of course, you can simply say, 1920s Chicago, and the set designers have their work cut out for them. You wouldn’t typically start out a novel with quite so blatant a setting. Creating a convincing setting from the outset requires a mastery of subtlety, a way of introducing the reader to the place and time without outright stating it. An opening line goes a long way toward this; take for example the opening to The Hobbit:

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.”

What is a hobbit, I wonder? It lives in a hole, apparently, in the ground. This clearly isn’t a regular human, nor does this story deal with regular human topics. Within a few words, I have an inkling of setting. By contrast, here is the opening line(s) to my secondary work-in-progress (not The Redemption of Erâth):

“It is a dark city on such a late summer evening. The sun is blood over the rooftops, and the girl in the park is sitting in the last rays passing between the old brick buildings.”

From this (I hope), we gather that we are in fact dealing with regular human topics, in a regular human city, and in (perhaps) a relatively modern era.

Of course, setting isn’t something that takes place uniquely at the beginning of the story. In many tales, the setting will change over the course of the telling, whether it be by characters traveling, or changing over time. Throughout the rest of The Hobbit, we are treated to farms and horses and swords and bows, and we become firmly rooted in fantasy. As my own novel (above) progresses, we follow the characters into pubs and clubs and become firmly rooted in present-day reality.

That being said, it’s nonetheless important to give a firm grasp of setting near the beginning. One of my favorite stories is actually one told through a video game, Max Payne (released in 2001). It tells the story of a New York City detective whose family is murdered by junkies, at which point he goes undercover to try and discover the source of the mystery drug that took away his loved ones. The gameplay is interspersed with graphic novel cutscenes, and the overall telling of the story is actually quite well done. However, the opening scene of the game takes place in an abandoned subway station, with set design harking back to the 1920s. Because of this opening environment, I immediately associated the setting with similar-era hard-boiled detective stories, à la Raymond Chandler. When we left the subway and emerged into modern-day New York City, I remember feeling just a touch disoriented, as though I had jumped ahead in time 80 years.

A very different story I once read, in which setting was done exquisitely, is His Majesty’s Dragon, by Naomi Novik. In her (ongoing) series about the Napoleonic wars, we are thrust into the action as a British warship engages a French frigate, the characters discovering aboard it a ready-to-hatch dragon egg. With brief descriptions of swords, cannons, and sails, we know immediately that this is historical, fiction, and fantasy. The story rapidly veers away from reality as we are introduced to the concept that dragons are used as an aerial force on both sides of the war, and the story develops remarkably entertainingly from there. I (disappointingly) have yet to read the rest of the books in her series, but I remember being enveloped in the clearly-defined setting from the outset.

Some stories, of course, change settings dramatically throughout, and this is much harder to do, as readers expect a consistency of sorts throughout the story. In H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine, we are introduced to a variety of settings that are all remarkably different from each other, primarily because the characters are literally traveling thousands of years in time. This provides an excuse to explore numerous fantastical places in a single short story and works well.

This is something I’m struggling with myself in my current series, The Redemption of Erâth. In the third book, which I’m currently in the process of editing, one of the characters finds themselves far in the past, in a place where magic is every-day reality, and people can travel the breadth of the world in a matter of weeks. This is far-distanced from the world of horses and swords that I have hitherto been describing, and I’m actually finding it difficult to reconcile the two worlds in a believable manner.
Ultimately, of course, I think the setting is secondary to the characters’ journey, but it’s also related, in an inextricable sort of way: the journey would not be what it is, if not for the setting in which the character journeys through.

What are some of your favorite settings for novels, films or games? What makes them so wonderful? And could the story have worked in a different setting? Let me know in the comments!

Raised between the soaring peaks of the Swiss Alps and the dark industrialism of northern England, beauty and darkness have been twin influences on Chris' creativity since his youth. Throughout his life he has expressed this through music, art, and literature, delving deep into the darkest parts of human nature, and finding the elegance therein. These themes are central to his current literary project, The Redemption of Erâth. A dark epic fantasy, it is a tale of the bitter struggle against darkness and despair, and an acknowledgment that there are some things the mind cannot overcome. Written from a depth of personal experience, Chris' words are touching and powerful, the hallmark of someone who has walked alone through the night, and welcomes the final darkness of the soul. However, for now, he lives in New Jersey with his wife and eleven-year-old son. You can also find him at

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February 2, 2017

Susan's Review Round Up: February Books

by Susan Roberts

There are a lot of great books publishing in February.  So instead of candy and roses, go buy yourself one of these fantastic books!

cover The Dressmaker's Dowry
February 2017; William Morrow Papberbacks;
9780062469830; ebook & print (384 pages);
historical fiction
a free ARC was provided for this review
The Dressmaker's Dowry by Meredith Jaeger

This is an excellent debut historical novel from Meredith Jaeger. The novel is well written and extremely interesting and once I started it, I had trouble putting it down again. The novel takes place in San Francisco and is the story of Hanna, a German immigrant working as a dressmaker in 1876 and Sarah in present day trying to complete her thesis. She originally planned to write a novel but when she finds a story about two missing dressmakers from 1876, her interest was sparked and she decided to try to find out what happened to them and then write a story about it. Little did she know that the story of the two missing women from 1876 would circle around and connect back to her family.

I thought that the author did a magnificent job of describing San Francisco both modern day and life in 1876. The immigrants of this time were definitely treated as second class citizens and were often forced to work and live in terrible conditions. It was very apparent that the author did significant research into the city both past and present.

This is a fantastic debut novel and I look forward to future books from this author.

Buy The Dressmaker's Dowry at Amazon on February 7

cover Always
February 2017; Ballantine Books;
9781101885024; ebook & print (288 pages);
women's fiction
a free ARC was provided for this review
Always by Sarah Jio

This was a very interesting novel - part romance and part social commentary. From some authors, this mix wouldn't work but Sarah Jio makes it work and turns it into a fantastic novel.

When Kailey moved to Seattle with her best friend, they were both just out of college and excited to be living in such a fantastic city. Kailey met Cade and he quickly became the love of her life. He was a music producer for the alternative rock singers in the area and they had a fantastic time exploring the city as they fell in love. Then one day Cade just disappeared. Kailey looked for him and finally gave up and moved on with her life. Fast forward ten years and Kailey is engaged to Ryan and they are leaving dinner at a fancy French restaurant. As she is waiting for Ryan to get the car, she sees a homeless man and after looking into his eyes, she realizes that it is Cade. The novel is about how she tries to help Cade while maintaining her life with Ryan. There is a lot of social commentary about the homeless and the way that they are treated with one line repeated several times: "They are people just like us".

Even though I didn't always agree with Kailey's decisions, I found her to be a convincing main character torn between the memory of her first love and the reality of the man she is engaged to. This is a compelling novel and I found myself reading very fast to find out how it would end.

Buy Always at Amazon on February 7.

cover Forever is the Worst Long Time
February 2017; Lake Union Publishing;
9781503941618; ebook & print (284 pages);
women's fiction
a free ARC was provided for this review
Forever is the Worst Long Time by Camille Pagan

This was a fantastic book and I definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to read about characters so well written that you feel like you know them working through situations that you feel like you've been through; if you want to read a book that will make you laugh and cry and if you want to read a book that will stay with you long after the last page has been read - then this is the book for you to read.

When Jim meets his best friend's girlfriend Lou, he falls in love with her. She is everything that he has ever wanted in a woman and she affects every relationship that he gets into because, in his mind, no woman can live up to her perfection. The rest of his life is a struggle too - he has problems with his teaching career and he just can't get started on the novel that he had planned to write. When Lou and Rob have marital problems, she turns to Jim for counsel. What happens next totally changes the future for Lou and Rob and especially Jim.

This wonderful book is about love and friendship and family. It's about struggle and rewards that come when you don't expect them and how the sum total of one's life is made up of the family and friends that love you.

Buy Forever is the Worst Long Time at Amazon on February 7.

cover The Chilbury Ladies Choir
February 2017; Crown; 9781101906750;
ebook & print (384 pages); historical fiction;
a free ARC was provided for this review
The Chilbury Ladies Choir by Jennifer Ryan

This was a fantastic book. I laughed out loud and I shed a few tears while I was reading it. The most outstanding part of this book is the characters that the author created. At times they were supportive of the town and each other and at other times they disagreed strongly with each other but were still supportive of their friends and their city.

The book takes place in a small town in England at the very beginning of WWII. The vicar has told the women in the church that the choir had to be disbanded because there were no men left to sing and there was no way to have a choir without male singers. The women didn't agree with him and started a Ladies Choir. The choir was made up of women both young and old from all levels of society. By working together in the choir, they learned that they could support each other and their village during this tragic time of war and loss.

The book is told through diaries, newspaper articles and letters and there are a lot of characters but I enjoyed the way that the author moved the story along. It was a comforting and uplifting book and I definitely enjoyed it. I wanted the book to continue and I would love to see a sequel to find out what happened to these characters as the war continued.

Buy The Chilbury Ladies Choir at Amazon on February 14.

cover The Monther's Promise
February 2017; St. Martin's Press; 9781250077752;
ebook & print (384 pages); women's fiction
a free ARC was provided for this review
The Mother's Promise by Sally Hepworth

The Mother's Promise is about family and love. It isn't quite the traditional family - there is only Alice and her daughter Zoe - no parents, no friends and basically no support system to help with problems and emergencies. Zoe is a teenager who has social anxiety disorder and is so shy that she can't really make friends. For all of Zoe's life, all she has needed is her mother and her mom has built her world around Zoe and they are happy as a family of two.

When Alice receives a grim medical prognosis, she needs to start making some decisions about Zoe's future. At first, she lies to her daughter about the severity of her disease, actually she lies to herself too, but after several setbacks in her health, she realizes that she needs to help Zoe find somewhere to live and how to live life without her. As she begins to network with two other women, she has to learn to trust other people and take care of Zoe's future.

This is a wonderful book about family and love. I will tell you that the story made me cry - both the bond between mother and daughter and the need to make plans for the future were sad and uplifting. This story is one that will stay in my mind long after I've finished reading it.

Buy The Mother's Promise at Amazon on February 21.

cover Windy City Blues
February 2017; Berkley; 978110191121;
ebook & print (480 pages); historical fiction
a free ARC was provided for this review
Windy City Blues by Renee Rosen

I don't read much historical fiction and after reading Windy City Blues, I am convinced that I need to read more of this genre. This was a fantastic book about blues music in Chicago in the 50s. Because I grew up with 60s music, I was aware of the influence of blues music on early rock and roll artists like The Rolling Stones and this book gave me so much information that I didn't know about how the music was brought up from the South and basically changed the music that American was listening to.

The story is about the founding of Chess Records by two white Jewish men who knew that they wanted to introduce a new sound to music but there is so much more than just music. There is also a lot of information about race relations in the north and the south, the beginnings of the civil rights movement and the Freedom riders and the daily struggle for black people. This story line is brought out by the relationship between Leeba, a white Jewish girl, and Red, a black blues guitarist.

I definitely enjoyed this book and learning about the early blues musicians. The author really did a lot of research and it's apparent on every page. Definitely one of my favorite books of the last few months.

Buy Windy City Blues at Amazon on February 28.

Susan Roberts lives in North Carolina when she isn't traveling.  She and her husband enjoy traveling, gardening and spending time with their grandson.  Susan reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction and thrillers. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on Facebook.

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February 1, 2017

New Books - February 2017

The weather here in Georgia can't decide if it wants to be spring or winter. My daffodils have bloomed and tree pollen is high, but the temperature is dipping much lower than I like. Whatever the weather, I just want to shut out the world and escape into the pages of a good book. And there are several promising books coming out this month.

cover Adorned
Known for her wisdom, warmth, and knowledge of Scripture, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has encouraged millions through her books, radio programs, and conferences. Now she’s back with a legacy work on Titus 2 and its powerful vision for women.

From Nancy:

"Cross-generational community between women is the biblical antidote for being chronically, hopelessly overwhelmed, as so many of us are.

When older women come out of their protective cocoons to invest themselves in the lives of younger women, whole families and churches feel the blessing. When young moms and singles widen their peer groups to include women who have already braved the same rapids and lived to tell about it, both sides of the relationship are strengthened and grow. We all, in different ways and in different seasons, need to be on both the giving and receiving end of this life-to-life process.

So I invite you to join me as we look to God’s Word for His perspective on the character, commitments, and attitudes of godly women—and His prescribed process for helping us live out these virtues not only today, but from generation to generation."

Available February 7
Buy Adorned at Amazon

cover SEALs of Honor
High seas terror, international intrigue... homegrown problems...

Rescuing hostages on a yacht is a fairly normal mission for Brett, one of the elite SEALs, but having one of those hostages be an ex-girlfriend and her kids — well that changes everything.

Particularly now that he knows she's single again.

Ceci had walked away from Brett and into another relationship as a way to heal. Only to end up as a widow raising two kids. She planned to stay single and secure, avoid all the heartbreak that relationships bring until she comes face to face with her rescuer...and realizes she's been fooling herself for years.

Unfortunately safe doesn't mean safe anymore as the situation goes from bad to worse and she realizes she might never get a chance to fix her mistake...

Available February 7
Buy SEALs of Honor: Brett at Amazon

cover My Not So Perfect Life
Katie Brenner has the perfect life: a flat in London, a glamorous job, and a super-cool Instagram feed.
Ok, so the real truth is that she rents a tiny room with no space for a wardrobe, has a hideous commute to a lowly admin job, and the life she shares on Instagram isn’t really hers.

But one day her dreams are bound to come true, aren’t they?

Until her not-so perfect life comes crashing down when her mega-successful boss Demeter gives her the sack. All Katie’s hopes are shattered. She has to move home to Somerset, where she helps her dad with his new glamping business.

Then Demeter and her family book in for a holiday, and Katie sees her chance. But should she get revenge on the woman who ruined her dreams? Or try to get her job back? Does Demeter – the woman with everything – have such an idyllic life herself? Maybe they have more in common than it seems.

And what’s wrong with not-so-perfect, anyway?

Available February 7
Buy My Not So Perfect Life at Amazon

cover Impact Zones
The athletes agented by Mavrick Allstars aren’t the only things heating up the sports agency. Zoe Dawson’s series continues with more gripping, heartfelt romance as the smart, talented, and sassy female agents continue to pursue their passion for both their profession and their clients.

It’s no secret Trista Jordan has coveted signing Falcon Dane. As one of the newer agents, she has something to prove at the internationally renowned agency. But she knows that taking on Falcon will either make her or break her. She’s determined to get the contract and snag all that explosive and muscled raw talent to rep him to the extreme. Her challenges: keep her hands off his gorgeous body and discover the core of his anger—because the mighty has fallen.

Professional surfer Falcon Dane, once at the top of his sport, struggles with an injury he sustained in a terrible car crash that fractured his pelvis, an accident that left his mother paralyzed. With Trista at the helm, she could help him spark a comeback that will leave both his competitors and sponsors breathless. But the key to success is in his tragic past and the accident that changed his world. Only he can restore the balance he so desperately needs to excel.

But when Trista becomes much more than his agent and he has to delve deep inside to find the real source of his anger, can he risk everything on her?

Available February 13
Buy Impact Zone at Amazon

cover Like a Memory
One memory.
One special summer.
The one thing Bliss had lost herself in when the fear and sickness were too much, moments never to be damaged by the harsh reality that followed… until now.

Bliss York didn’t live a normal teenage life. She didn’t go to Friday night football games, walk the halls with her friends every day, go to her prom or even walk to receive her diploma. It had all been taken from her the fall that she was fifteen years old and she was given the diagnosis no one ever wants to hear.

She had leukemia.

Seven years after spending a summer with a girl who he knew would always be his first love and the one who got away, Nate Finlay returns to Sea Breeze to help his fiancé open her new boutique clothing store. When the new employee walks in Nate is taken back seven years to the girl he thought he’d love forever. The one who never answered his calls or returned his text. The one who shut him out completely with not even a goodbye and broke his heart.

They’ve each become someone different. No longer the young teens with stars in their eyes. But does that matter when your heart still says that’s the one.

Available February 14
Buy Like a Memory at Amazon

cover Gunmetal Gray
Mark Greaney, the #1 New York Times bestselling coauthor of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan novels, delivers another breakneck thriller following the world’s deadliest assassin—the Gray Man…

After five years on the run Court Gentry is back on the inside at the CIA. But his first mission makes him wish he had stayed on the outs when a pair of Chinese agents try to take him down in Hong Kong. Normally the Chinese prefer to stay eyes-only on foreign agents. So why are they on such high alert?

Court’s high stakes hunt for answers takes him across Southeast Asia and leads
to his old friend, Donald Fitzroy, who is being held hostage by the Chinese. Fitzroy was contracted to find Fan Jiang, a former member of an ultra-secret computer warfare unit responsible for testing China’s own security systems. And it seems Fan may have been too good at his job—because China wants him dead.

The first two kill teams Fitzroy sent to find Fan have disappeared and the Chinese have decided to “supervise” the next operation. What they don't know is that Gentry’s mission is to find Fan first and get whatever intel he has to the US.

After that, all he has to do is get out alive...

Available February 14
Buy Gunmetal Gray at Amazon

cover Death of a Ghost
Sergeant Hamish Macbeth--Scotland's most quick-witted but unambitious policeman--returns in M.C. Beaton's new mystery in her New York Times bestselling series DEATH OF A GHOST When Police Sergeant Hamish Macbeth hears reports of a haunted castle near Drim, he assumes the eerie noises and lights reported by the villagers are just local teenagers going there to smoke pot or, worse, inject themselves with drugs. Still, Hamish decides that he and his policeman, Charlie "Clumsy" Carson, will spend the night at the ruined castle to get to the bottom of the rumors once and for all.There's no sign of any ghost...but then Charlie disappears through the floor. It turns out he's fallen into the cellar. And what Hamish and Charlie find there is worse than a ghost: a dead body propped against the wall. Waiting for help to arrive, Hamish and Charlie leave the castle just for a moment--to eat bacon baps--but when they return, the body is nowhere to be seen. It's clear something strange--and deadly--is going on at the castle, and Hamish must get to the bottom of it before the "ghost" can strike again...

Available February 21
Buy Death of a Ghost at Amazon

cover The Follower

Julie has the perfect life.

A kind boyfriend, loving parents and good grades. She has everything ahead of her.

Cora’s life is a nightmare.

A psychopath for a husband, a violent father and a terrible secret. There’s no way out.

But one night, their worlds collide.

Locked in an isolated house together, they must work out what has happened – and who they can trust to set them free.

From the bestselling author of The Never List, this is a breath-taking new thriller about the wife of a kidnapper and her relationship with his last victim.

Available February 23
Buy The Follower at Amazon

cover In the Frost
In the explosive finale to New York Times bestselling author Jeaniene Frost’s Night Prince series, Vlad is in danger of losing his bride to an enemy whose powers might prove greater than the Prince of Vampire’s….

In the wrong hands, love can be a deadly weapon.

For nearly six hundred years, Vlad Tepesh cared for nothing, so he had nothing to lose. His brutal reputation ensured that all but the most foolhardy stayed away. Now falling in love with Leila has put him at the mercy of his passions. And one adversary has found a devastating way to use Vlad’s new bride against him.

A powerful spell links Leila to the necromancer Mircea. If he suffers or dies, so does she. Magic is forbidden to vampires, so Vlad and Leila enlist an unlikely guide as they search for a way to break the spell. But an ancient enemy lies in wait, capable of turning Vlad and Leila’s closest friends against them…and finally tearing the lovers apart forever.

Available February 28
Buy Into the Frost at Amazon

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January 31, 2017

Review: I Liked My Life by Abby Fabiaschi

by Susan Roberts

January 2017; St. Martin's Press; 9781250084873;
audio, ebook & print (272 pages); women's fiction
a free book was provided for this review
I Liked my Life is the debut novel from Abby Fabiaschi and it's a fantastic book. The book is told from three main characters - Maddy, a wife and mother who is devoted to her family but has committed suicide before the book starts. Even though she is dead, she still tries to control things that happen in her family's lives. Her family is her husband Brady, who has spent too much time at work and not enough time at home over the years and their teenage daughter Eve, who can't comprehend life without her mother. Maddy's main goal is to find a woman to be the perfect wife and mother to help her family heal from her death. I know that this sounds like a really sad novel and it is in part, especially when dealing with Eve's grief over the loss of her mother but it is also very uplifting to see the family start to heal from their loss and to see the growth in the characters.

I loved the characters in this novel and I love the way that the author reveals the story through these characters. This was a fantastic book and I had trouble putting it down once I started.

Add this to your to-read list for January. You don't want to miss it.

Note: Twenty percent of all Abby’s after-tax profit— including foreign and film rights— are donated to charities uplifting women and children around the world. No exceptions. No fine print.

Susan Roberts lives in North Carolina when she isn't traveling.  She and her husband enjoy traveling, gardening and spending time with their grandson.  Susan reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction and thrillers. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on Facebook.

Get even more book news in your inbox by signing up for our newsletter: Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.

January 30, 2017

Review: In This Life by Christine Brae #MondayBlogs

by MK French

November 2016; Vesuvian Books; 9781944109387;
ebook & print (334 pages); romance
a free book was provided for this review
In Christine Brae's In This Life, Anna Dillon and her best friend Dante go on a medical mission trip to Thailand before she enters medical school. While there, she meets Jude Grayson and they have a brief but passionate affair. Though he promises to keep in touch, he never does. Anna can't quite get over him, and tries to move on with Dante. This almost works, but then she encounters Jude again by chance and her old feelings are reawakened.

The emotions conveyed in this book are so raw and almost uncomfortable to read at times. There's no "hero" in the book; they are all flawed and approachable in different ways, recognizably human even as they try to improve.

"It wasn't a love triangle; she wasn't confused, nor was she apologetic. She set out to prove to the world there are different kinds of love that can only be experienced once in a lifetime."

Anna is confused, though. There is love for two different men, in different ways, and she can't reconcile her own feelings with what she believes she should do.

Read an interview with Christine Brae and remember to enter the mystery box giveaway below that Christine Brae is sponsoring along with Girl Who Reads.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and golden retriever. 

Get even more book news in your inbox by signing up for our newsletter: Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.