Yella’s Prayers, a Novel

Yella’s Prayers
A Novel

*Second Edition coming February 2017, available now for pre-order*

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She awoke with a gasp, sitting up. “God? Was that You?”

A pivotal year awaits Bless, a young woman who hides her passion: her music. She’s not exactly friends with T’meal, a talented athlete who won’t explain why he’s passed up the chance of a lifetime. Nor is Bless too close to Lamall, a boisterous playboy with a broken private life that’s spiraling out of control.

But Bless knows she’s meant to help these two young men. She can’t deny the Voice that told her so.

A coming of age story of compassion, the awakening of love, and knowing when it’s time to step out of the shadows and shine.

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You can pre-order a Kindle copy of Yella’s Prayers for a special price now at Amazon.

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Once Upon a Sunday by Renée Allen McCoy

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Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.
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Four Silver Stars

once-upon-a-sundayOnce Upon a Sunday by Renee Allen McCoy

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Good Friday is turning out to be anything but good for Melinda. The shameful way she loses her job may be nothing compared to how her marriage has recently crumbled. What’s coming around the corner for her this Easter could be the making or breaking of her in Once Upon a Sunday by author Renée Allen McCoy.

I appreciate how much the author packed into a story of this length without overstuffing it or making it feel like disjointed chaos. There’s enough backstory and tidbits about Melinda to help you understand and empathize with her. It’s a very “come to Jesus” type of read for those who like an evangelistic message in their Christian Fiction.

I did find the story’s confusion of tenses to be distracting. As Melinda relates her account to the reader in first person, she switches back and forth between past and present tense quite a bit, and most of the switches don’t seem intentional. Also, as the story wraps up, it starts to wrap up a little too perfectly. I think some of the outcomes would’ve needed more time and development, so as not to feel Happily-Ever-After-like so suddenly.

Still, it’s an uplifting story that deals with hard issues, and I think many other ChristFic fans will enjoy it.

Child of the River by Irma Joubert

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Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. BookLook Bloggers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for an honest review.
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child-of-the-riverChild of the River by Irma Joubert

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

They were fighting for survival, she knew. Because their complexions were dark, their religion considered heathen, their traditions unfamiliar.
Had she been foolish to take on this battle?

Growing up as a poor, white daughter of sharecroppers in South Africa during World War II, it seems that Pérsomi will have few options in life. When an unexpected chance at education opens up to her, it brings her into a new world of possibilities. But at this time of heightening social unrest in her country, her new world may be a difficult place to make a difference in Child of the River, a novel by author Irma Joubert.

Pérsomi is an intelligent heroine full of quiet yearning, and my favorite parts of the story are when her simple, unlikely courage comes to the fore. She has a heart for seeking justice, and for better or for worse, that heart is put to the test in the face of apartheid. Also, as I’ve read a number of novels that deal with WWII, it was interesting to observe some effects of the war from Pérsomi’s part of the globe.

However, when it came to much of her personal life, I found the novel pretty hard to read. Yes, any strong story needs some sort of believable conflict, challenge, or adversity from which to create a plot. But when a book starts to feel like a downer overall, it usually isn’t my cup of tea. It seems this story goes from generally sober, then to gloomy, and then to downright depressing, without enough moments of light or fire to balance it out for me. Once I reached the end of the book, I wasn’t quite sure if the conclusion was a natural outcome or if it was something to placate me, more or less, after all the gloom.

Still, admiring and relating to this flawed but able heroine kept me intrigued enough to stick with her story.

Meals from Mars: A Parable of Prejudice and Providence by Ben Sciacca

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Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. Tyndale House provided me with a complimentary copy of this book from NavPress for an honest review.
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Five Gold Stars

meals-from-marsMeals from Mars: A Parable of Prejudice and Providence by Ben Sciacca

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Malik is a young man on a mission: a mission to stop by a neighborhood convenience store, pick up some butter and milk for his grandma, and stay as safe as possible. Jim, a lawyer, is a man on a mission: a mission to drop off some groceries for a family in need, buy a couple gallons of gas, and get out of this neighborhood as quickly as possible. But a dangerous incident at the gas station puts a major hitch in both Malik’s and Jim’s plans in Meals from Mars: A Parable of Prejudice and Providence by author Ben Sciacca.

I read the subtitle and some blurbs for this book beforehand, seeing their conspicuous statements about the book’s purpose. Even as my decision and desire to read the book were immediate, I’ll admit I was a little nervous. Nervous that this “parable” might be heavy-handed, using its characters as obvious pawns to preach a message, and to preach it hard, more so than, you know, telling a compelling story with believable characters.

Once I started reading the book, it did away with my nervousness. Yes, the ideas in it are blatant, barefaced, but not at the expense of story (which includes some beautiful imagery and a dash of humor, by the way.) And it raises questions without trying to tell the reader exactly what to think.

Sure, Malik’s style of speech didn’t seem the most consistent to me in some places. I also thought the story’s pattern might become redundant, if one character kept raising valid points while the other one mainly sat there, stumped.

Yet, the story ultimately balances itself out. And it doesn’t sugarcoat or tie up its message in a nice, neat bow on its way to bringing hope. I think many Christian readers, especially in the U.S., would do well to read this book.

Cloth of Heaven by BJ Hoff

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Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.
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Four Silver Stars

Book cover image courtesy of FictionDB.com

Book cover image courtesy of FictionDB.com

Cloth of Heaven by B.J. Hoff

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Jack had wondered then, and still wondered, how long it would take–what it would take–before the Irish were accepted instead of despised, respected instead of condemned.
Sometimes he thought it would take an eternity to right the wrongs that had been done to his people.

An unlikely group of people are essentially tied together from across the ocean in the mid-1800s. Prejudice, poverty, and seemingly impossible dreams are only some of the challenges they face in the first installment of an Irish-American saga, Cloth of Heaven by author BJ Hoff.

As I read American Anthem by this author years ago, and I found it absolutely magnificent, I’ve had the Song of Erin books on my shelf for quite a while, purposely putting them off, chiefly for anticipation’s sake.

Heart-wrenching, fittingly dramatic, and ultimately beautiful as this first novel is, I thought it moved at a cumbersome pace in places, redundant in a way, taking the long way around to some of its points. I didn’t really connect with most of the characters until more than halfway through the book–though, excluding maybe one or two of them (who gave me little reason to like or root for them), it might not have been the characters’ fault. It just took a while for the story to click for me, and once it did, it mainly seemed like an extended setup for Book Two.

But, to be fair, it doesn’t end on a cliffhanger or anything, and as I recall, the American Anthem novels are much the same way: not cliffhangers, but not books that could stand the best on their own, either.

Now, I don’t wish to make it sound as if I didn’t enjoy this heart-wrenching, fittingly dramatic, and ultimately beautiful novel, because I did. And I don’t plan on putting off Book Two for long.

“As for me, I decided a long time ago I didn’t want my life to be some old throwaway rag. No, sir, I want my life fashioned right out of the cloth of heaven.”

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Cloth of Heaven is Book One in the Song of Erin series.

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