Julia’s Last Hope by Janette Oke

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.

Julia’s Last Hope by Janette Oke

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When the lumber mill closes down in Calder Springs, it essentially spells sudden doom for the town. But Julia is determined to find a way to keep the town going and to hold on to her home for her family in Julia’s Last Hope by author Janette Oke.

This is at least the third time I’ve read this novel over the years, from one of my all-time favorite series, Women of the West. Sure, some of the aspects still aren’t my cup of tea (too many dashes making much of the dialogue jerky, tears so frequent that they lose their effect, and other issues). Even so, while some of the stylistic and delivery choices here aren’t what I go for in ChristFic now, there are reasons why I keep returning to this series.

In the case of Julia’s story, even knowing the ending already, I had to see the process again. The eerie feeling in the streets and among the remaining townsfolk as a “ghost town” cloud starts creeping over the place. The questions and uncertainties. The way Julia’s industrious idea brings about outcomes she wouldn’t have foreseen and lessons she wouldn’t have learned otherwise.

Plus, wholesome novels that are easy to digest are still great to mix in between heavier reads. I’ll again be making my way back around to this series of standalone novels in the near future.


Monster by Walter Dean Myers

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.

Monster by Walter Dean Myers

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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

Half of those jurors…believed you were guilty the moment they laid eyes on you. You’re young, you’re Black, and you’re on trial. What else do they need to know?

At sixteen years old, Steve Harmon is on trial as an accomplice to a murder. As a high school student with an interest in filmmaking, Steve records his time in jail and in the courtroom in the form of a screenplay, titling it what the prosecutor called him: Monster by author Walter Dean Myers.

Count this as the only time I’ve ever read a novel written as a movie. That immediately got my attention when I picked up this YA book on an impulse.

But what I came to appreciate most about the story? It didn’t turn out to be the oversimple tale it could have been. It may be easy to string together a bunch of clichés concerning a hot button topic, to insert them into a predictable plot, and then—BAM!—you’ve got a novel about a hot social “issue.”

This novel isn’t that. Yes, it relevantly takes a social climate into account, but it isn’t merely using that to spin a drama together, nor is it just a ride or a race to figure out whodunit. Rather, this is a story of lost innocence. It’s a story of reflection, of questions.

Haunting questions.

And it seems to me, the novel’s value is in getting readers, especially (but not only) young adults, to reflect. To question. Perhaps to even form a habit of reflecting, of seriously thinking about what’s important, before trouble demands it.

Note to my blog readers: this novel contains some violent material within and outside of jail.


Before I Called You Mine by Nicole Deese

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. Bethany House provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.

Before I Called You Mine by Nicole Deese

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

Romance hasn’t worked out in Lauren Bailey’s life, but there’s still a long-awaited dream that may finally come true for her: the chance to become a mother. The international adoption agency she’s working with requires Lauren to remain single for some time, and she’s fine with that—until she meets Joshua Avery. Now Lauren may find herself having to choose between receiving a child in need or accepting the love of a good man in Before I Called You Mine by author Nicole Deese.

It’s true I don’t read much contemporary romance these days, especially not novels so close to the 400-page range. A book of any genre has to really fascinate me to keep me turning that many pages now, and modern-day romance stories can be a gamble for me.

But, oh, the basic plot of this novel so intrigued me—and the book cover? Simple, lovely, and effective. I’ll admit the awesome title and the cover had me prepared for a possibly somber tone to the tale, so it was refreshing to find the heroine narrating her story with down-to-earth, chuckle-worthy personality.

However, the unfolding of events was rather slow-going for me. My interest waned, and I didn’t find myself becoming attached to the characters. Because I wasn’t engrossed in the story after getting through a third of it, I decided not to continue.

Even so, plenty of other readers who enjoy contemporary Christian romance that moves at an easy pace while dealing with tough matters of the heart would do well to check this novel out.


Kiss and ’Telle? by Nadine C. Keels


Kiss and ’Telle?
A Novella
(Contemporary Romance)

“This book has so many uplifting and funny moments!” ~The Adventures of a Traveler’s Wife
“…a fun and enchanting read focused on the theme of longtime friendship and love.” ~RAIN’N’BOOKS

If only this type of thing were as easy as it looks in chick flicks.

Ever since her college days, Chantelle has had growing feelings for Dennis, a swaggering and smart geek-at-heart who’s got romance coming out of his ears. At least, he talks as if he’s mastered the art of dating, but how would Chantelle know if it’s true? She’s never gotten to experience Dennis as anything more than a close friend.

But wait! A huge opportunity comes along that could impact both their personal and professional lives. This may lead to the perfect time for Chantelle to tell Dennis what he means to her.

It may also be time for some of Chantelle’s own words about love to come back to bite her.


This contemporary romance features characters who first appeared in Hope Unashamed, the sequel to Love Unfeigned. Enjoy a bonus excerpt at the end of the story.


Pick up a copy of Kiss and ’Telle?

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