My Review – All of You

My Review - All of You - Monzon

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All of You is a dual-timeline romance.

Maryland, Present Day

Jacquelyn Rogers can rebuild anything…except the shambles of her past. A restorer of vintage planes, she’s worked hard to earn the reputation of being one of the guys. The last thing she needs is a former Navy pilot fighting his own inner demons stepping in to defend her from dangers she thought she’d outrun long ago. Some battles must be fought alone.

After a freak accident severs Lieutenant Michael “Finch” Carrington’s dreams, as well as two limbs, he’s left with nothing but a fragile faith and a duty-bound promise to watch out for his friend’s baby sister. A promise she insists is as unnecessary as it is unappreciated. But when she turns the tables and begins to weld together the broken parts of his life, it may be his heart that is in need of protection.

England, 1944

With the world at war yet again, Alice Galloway rejects her father’s traditional expectations and offers her piloting expertise to the Air Transport Auxiliary. She may be a woman in a man’s world, but when she overhears key intelligence, she must find the strength to transcend boundaries and her own fears. Or countless people may die.

Sometimes the past reaches forward to bring hope to the future.

Why This Book:

As I mentioned in a previous post, I had the pleasure of meeting Sandra Barela in June at the SoCal Christian Writers Conference where she invited me to join her Celebrate Lit Team. When I saw the opportunity to join a Celebrate Lit tour for Sarah Monzon’s latest book, All of You, I was immediately excited because I had previously read and enjoyed Monzon’s award-winning debut novel, The Isaac Project. Signing on to this tour was a no-brainer.

Opening Line:

Present Day, 100 Miles off the Coast of Virginia

Lieutenant Michael “Finch” Carrington pulled up the zipper of his green flight suit and stared at the mass on the opposite rack.

First Impressions:

As a dual-timeline novel, this book felt as though it had two first chapters – one for each timeline. Starting with the contemporary timeline was a clever move by Monzon since that scene held the most drama. Beyond that, she did an excellent job putting the reader on a naval ship and showing us what it meant to “Finch” to be there. In a very tangible way, it shows the readers exactly what is at stake and leaves us wanting to know what happens next. Monzon’s second chapter, which reads as the first chapter for her historical timeline, has more dialogue and less action, but does a good job introducing us to another main character, Alice Galloway, and getting us settled in the realities of her world. In fact, one of my favorite quotes is from the second chapter:

She peered down the harbor line looking for any evidence that reality wasn’t a nightmare. That the tension-charged air she’d breathed on the voyage and the hushed whisperings of U-boat threats were due to her falling down a rabbit’s hole like the Alice in Lewis Carrol’s storybook.

Characters:

Lieutenant Michael “Finch” Carrington –  A young man who’s grown up knowing exactly where he belongs and what he wants from life . . . until a freak accident forever separates him from everything he wanted and expected. He’s forced to reexamine not only his life’s goals, but his very identity. Anyone who has ever grappled with identifying their purpose in life, or faced unexpected tragedy and struggled to make sense of it, will easily relate to this character.

Jacquelyn “Jack” Rodgers – A confident airplane mechanic who specializes in restoring old planes. Capable of caring for herself, her depressed father, and her older brothers, Jack’s not afraid of much . . . except her abusive ex-boyfriend Mitch Stavros. Wanting to believe she can handle anything, Jack fights her fear and resists the assistance Michael and her family try to offer her.

All of You - Shoe Image Quote

Henry Caldwell – A well-liked, confident newspaper reporter with his own agenda, he is attracted to Alice (and she to him) from the start. He won’t take no for an answer when he asks if he may show her around town. His actions following this show him to be good and noble, but he is often away and an unplanned encounter with Alice threatens to destroy their budding relationship.

Emotional Engagement & Pacing of the Story:

While both timelines have their share of action to propel the reader forward, it’s really the character development that kept me reading – especially as regards the contemporary timeline. The author did an excellent job of giving me enough answers to keep me from feeling frustrated while still leaving me with enough questions that I didn’t want to put the book down.

Elements I especially liked/disliked:

I especially enjoyed the fully-developed characters and watching them grow and change in this book. Michael and Alice were both characters enduring or exploring roles in life which I have not read about before (rehabilitating amputee & WWII female pilot), and I always enjoy uniqueness such as that.

As much as I enjoyed this novel, I must be candid in saying that the scene in the forest between Alice and Henry (and to a lesser extent the events immediately leading up to it) made me cringe a bit. I just didn’t buy it. For two reasons: 1) WWII is definitely not my area of historical expertise and I don’t read a ton of fiction set in WWII, but this particular sequence seemed just a tad beyond my sense of plausibility. That said, sometimes reality defies belief, and I would love to learn there is a historical basis for the events described. 2) I just didn’t buy the way Alice and Henry reacted in this scene and the way it all unfolded between them from that point.

Themes:

For both timelines, there is an overarching theme of self-discovery and finding ones’ purpose in life.

Ending:

As I mentioned above, the WWII timeline lost a little of its shine for me near the end. Those concluding events and reactions just felt a bit too contrived. I also felt Henry and Alice needed more time than they got after that forest scene. However, it was by no means a terrible ending, and I was very pleased with Jack and Michael’s conclusion and how it played out.

Overall Rating:

3 out of 5 stars

BONUS Mini Review:

Although the books in Monzon’s Carrington Family Series can be read as stand alone books, I prefer to read a series in order whenever possible. Therefore, I made a point to read Monzon’s Finders Keepers before reading All of You, and boy am I glad! Finders Keepers was a fun and fast-paced read with some seriously swoon-worthy moments and true heart! I highly recommend it!  (P.S. If you’ve read it, am I the only one who mentally cast Chris Hemsworth as Trent?)

What do you think of dual timeline romance novels? Can you relate to these characters’ struggles to identify their life’s purpose and/or make sense of tragedy?

TWEETABLES:

Relatable characters make sense of tragedy and find their purpose. #BookReview

Character development that keeps you reading. #BookReview

Psst! Feel free to borrow any of the above photos in this post for sharing on social media and remember to tag me @KathleenDenly !

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About the Author

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Sarah Monzon is a Navy chaplain’s wife and a stay at home mom to the two cutest littles in the world. Playing pretend all day with them isn’t enough, she spends the evenings after their heads hit the pillow to create her own imaginary characters. When she isn’t in the world of make believe, she can be found in the pine forests of western Washington taking care of her family, fostering friendships, and enjoying all the adventures each day brings.

Her debut novel, The Isaac Project, skyrocketed to Amazon bestseller status while her Sophomore book, Finders Keepers, won the 2017 Selah award for contemporary romance.

Guest Post from Sarah Monzon

I’m so excited to be here today and getting this opportunity to hang out with y’all in this virtual world. If you are anything like me, you devour books faster than my son drinks orange juice (and he really loves orange juice!). Because of that, it is sometimes hard to come across a book with a unique premise or a message that you haven’t seen incorporated a thousand times before. As a writer, I always try to bring something fresh to the table.

In the first book of the Carrington Family Series, Finders Keepers, neither of my characters were Christians. What? No Christians in a Christian fiction novel? Most Christian fiction books usually have at least one or both main characters a Christians. Don’t worry, they both found their way to Jesus. With All of You, however, I wanted to take yet an even different approach.

I’ve ready lots of books where the main character is angry or upset with God for such-and-such thing that happened in his/her life (I’ve even written a character like that), but I hadn’t really read a story about a character that, no matter what life threw at him/her, he/she was going to trust in God no matter what. As a life-long Christian, this is a message I can identify with. The “If not, He is still good” resonation that is sometimes harder to hold on to in the midst of pain and struggles.

So, as with all my books, I hope the freshness of the story and the realness of my characters will inspire and uplift you as you travel along with them on their journey.

God Bless.

Blog Stops

September 12: A Baker’s Perspective

September 12: Quiet Quilter

September 13: Books, Books, and More Books

September 13: Jeanette’s Thoughts

September 14: Cordially Barbara

September 14: Smiling Book Reviews

September 15: Avid Reader Book Reviews

September 15: Carpe Diem

September 16: Inklings and notions

September 16: Christian Bookaholic

September 17: Christian Chick’s Thoughts

September 17: Artistic Nobody

September 18: Bookworm Mama

September 18: Remembrancy

September 19: Back Porch Reads

September 19: Kat’s Corner Books

September 20: Just Jo’Anne

September 20: Margaret Kazmierczak

September 21: The Power of Words

September 21: Mary Hake

September 22: 100 Pages per Hour

September 22: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations

September 23: Zerina Blossom’s Books

September 23: Simple Harvest Reads (spotlight)

September 24: Blossoms and Blessings

September 24: Moments Dipped in Ink

September 25: Kathleen Denly

September 25: His Grace is Sufficient

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Sarah is giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card!! Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/bd52

 

First Line Friday – 9.22.17

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Whether you’re looking for a good book or just curious what others are reading, you’ve come to the right place. Each Friday I pick a book and share the first line with you. This week I am sharing the first line from A Rose Blooms Twice by Vikki Kestell.

A Rose Blooms Twice

Here’s the first line:

Rose glanced up and saw James watching her.

I have not read anything by this author. I discovered this book on another book blogger’s website, but I’m sorry to say it has been sitting on my To Be Read list so long I’ve forgotten which site it was. I added it to my list because of the rave reviews and the deep topics which reviewers said it addressed. At long last, it looks like I’ll get to read this book in the coming week. It’ll be interesting to see if I enjoy it as much as others have.

Now it’s your turn! Grab the book nearest to you and leave a comment with the first (or your favorite) line!

Then head on over and share your first line with these friends:

Andi @ Radiant Light

Carrie @ Reading Is My Super Power

Rachel @ Bookworm Mama

Sydney @ Singing Librarian Books

Robin @ Robin’s Nest

Katie @ Fiction Aficionado

Bree @ Bibliophile Reviews

Beth @ Faithfully Bookish

Amanda @ With A Joyful Noise

Jessica @ A Baker’s Perspective

Trisha @ The Joy of Reading

Jeanette @ C Jane Read

Molly @ Molly’s Cafinated-Reads

CJ @ Moments Dipped In Ink

English Lady @ Romances of the Cross

Heather @ Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen

Sarah @ All the Book Blog Names are Taken

Lauraine @ Lauraine’s Notes

Did You Know? – When Girls Become Women

Did You Know Chalk Board w Rustic Wood Frame & Daisy

“[Researchers] found that in 1860, the average age of the onset of puberty in girls was 16.6 years. In 1920, it was 14.6; in 1950, 13.1; 1980, 12.5; and in 2010, it had dropped to 10.5. Similar sets of figures have been reported for boys, albeit with a delay of around a year.” – McKie, Robin. “Onset of puberty in girls has fallen by five years since 1920.” TheGuardian.com. 20 Oct. 2012. Web. 9 Sept. 2017

Additionally, studies have shown that malnutrition can cause a delay in the age of puberty onset.

Why am I sharing this? Well, because it directly affects my Waltz with Me novel.

I never directly state my heroine’s age in the novel. However, events near the beginning of the book are (more or less) triggered by visible signs of puberty in my heroine. This necessarily dictates her approximate age for the rest of the book. (Take the approximate age of puberty, use the current chapter date to calculate the time elapsed since she reached puberty in the first chapter and you have her approximate age).

In initial critiques, I got a lot of pushback that my heroine was too young because readers were associating her physical changes with the ages at which girls experience those changes today. Most people, it seems, are unaware (or don’t make the connection) that girls of the past were so much older when these changes occurred for them.  Nor were they aware that the poverty-induced malnutrition my heroine suffered might have delayed the onset of her puberty.

It’s amazing how such small pieces of information can dramatically change our perspective on a story.

#nowyouknow 😉

First Line Friday – 9.15.17

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Whether you’re looking for a good book or just curious what others are reading, you’ve come to the right place. Each Friday I pick a book and share the first line with you. This week I am sharing the first line from The Lady and the Lionheart by Joanne Bischoff.

The Lady and the Lionheart

Here’s the first line:

Roanoke, Virginia

Spring 1890

With the hiss of smoothing irons and the starchy scent of soap trailing her, Ella toted a bundle of hospital linens up the steps.

This one has been sitting on my To Be Read list for far too long! I am so happy to report that I have finally found the time to read it and you will soon be able to read my full review.

Now it’s your turn! Grab the book nearest to you and leave a comment with the first (or your favorite) line!

Then head on over and share your first line with these friends:

Andi @ Radiant Light

Carrie @ Reading Is My Super Power

Rachel @ Bookworm Mama

Sydney @ Singing Librarian Books

Robin @ Robin’s Nest

Katie @ Fiction Aficionado

Bree @ Bibliophile Reviews

Beth @ Faithfully Bookish

Amanda @ With A Joyful Noise

Jessica @ A Baker’s Perspective

Trisha @ The Joy of Reading

Jeanette @ C Jane Read

Molly @ Molly’s Cafinated-Reads

CJ @ Moments Dipped In Ink

English Lady @ Romances of the Cross

Heather @ Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen

Sarah @ All the Book Blog Names are Taken

Lauraine @ Lauraine’s Notes

A Special Announcement

A Special Announcement

Hello! If you are new to my blog, please bear with me as this post is out of the norm for me. I am typically a very private person, but something very special has recently come to fruition for my family which I feel compelled to share with you all.

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you may have noticed my lowered rate of interaction with your comments in recent weeks. Here is why:

Our family has grown! 

Our family officially began the adoption process in 2012. We began by pursuing the adoption of a special needs girl in Russia. Unfortunately, Russia closed to adoptions by U.S. parents in December of 2012 while we were in mid-process. After a grieving period and much prayer, we worked for more than a year to become a resource family for our county. When our foster placement didn’t work out, the loss was too much for our three boys so we turned our focus back to international adoption. In 2015 we began the process of adopting a child in China. On August 15, 2017, we flew to China to meet our daughter. On August 21, 2017, she officially became a member of our family. When we returned to the U.S. on September 3, she became a citizen of the United States of America.

Public Photo of Ava

While we are over the moon to have this little girl join our family, adoption isn’t easy on anyone involved. Today, we are settling in and working toward a new normal.  This means I will be skipping next week’s Monday post as we work through the various appointments our girl needs to attend now that she is home and spend time bonding as a family. It also means that I may continue to be a bit slower in responding to comments for the next couple weeks, but I hope to play catch-up soon on what I missed while I was out of the country. I also hope to be back at my typical reply speed soon.

NOTE:  I fully understand that adoption is a controversial topic. However, this is not the place to get into debates on the issue. There are many other sites available online for those discussions. Any negative or politically oriented comments will be deleted. Thank you for understanding.

 

 

First Line Friday – 9.8.17

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Whether you’re looking for a good book or just curious what others are reading, you’ve come to the right place. Each Friday I pick a book and share the first line with you. This week I am sharing the first line from Finders Keepers by Sarah Monzon – winner of the 2017 SELAH award for contemporary romance.

Finders Keepers

Here’s the first line:

Seville, Spain, 1689

Isabella stumbled along the rough boards of the dock, feeling exposed without her corset and many layers of petticoats.

I thoroughly enjoyed Monzon’s debut novel, The Isaac Project, so when I learned of her Carrington Family series, I jumped at the chance to read more of her writing. I’m especially excited to be part of the upcoming tour for her second book in the Carrington Family series:  All of You. Look for my review to be posted soon!

Now it’s your turn! Grab the book nearest to you and leave a comment with the first (or your favorite) line!

Then head on over and share your first line with these friends:

Andi @ Radiant Light

Carrie @ Reading Is My Super Power

Rachel @ Bookworm Mama

Sydney @ Singing Librarian Books

Robin @ Robin’s Nest

Katie @ Fiction Aficionado

Bree @ Bibliophile Reviews

Beth @ Faithfully Bookish

Amanda @ With A Joyful Noise

Jessica @ A Baker’s Perspective

Trisha @ The Joy of Reading

Jeanette @ C Jane Read

Molly @ Molly’s Cafinated-Reads

CJ @ Moments Dipped In Ink

English Lady @ Romances of the Cross

Heather @ Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen

Sarah @ All the Book Blog Names are Taken

Lauraine @ Lauraine’s Notes

Spotlight – In Love and War

Spotlight - In Love and War

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This novella collection features four fun and feisty sweet romances.

Lassoed by Love
By Miralee Ferrell

Lindsey Morgan loves her life—too bad she can no longer afford it. The exclusive boutique she managed recently closed. Ready for a new adventure, she accepts a job at a resort. What could go wrong working at a gift shop and laying by a pool during her off hours? What Lindsey didn’t expect was Steven Graham, her high-school crush showing up—as her new boss. Steven isn’t the shy, red-neck teen she’d known six years ago. He’s somehow morphed into a gorgeous, aloof, more refined man. Too bad he thinks she’s still the spoiled cheerleader he thought had snubbed him, but she’d change that assumption if it killed her—and with the new job description she’d been handed, it just might!

Designed with Love
By Kimberly Rose Johnson

To save her fledgling landscape business, Jessie Morgan is determined to win an important design competition–even though her major competitors are ex-fiancé Brendon Jacobs and one-time best friend Scott Meyers. Tensions are high in the quaint town of Silver Spring, Oregon as neighbors and friends take sides. Will Brendon drive Jessie and Scott farther apart, or will they join forces…and find love in the process?

More Than Meets the Eye
By Trish Perry

Jensy St. Martin is not pleased when she recognizes the latest ad man to join the Washington, D. C. agency she has long considered her professional home. Phil Quinn was a cocky, love-’em-and-leave-’em type when they attended the same high school ten years ago, and she senses he hasn’t changed much since then. When the two ad designers are forced to work together on a campaign, Jensy learns more than she wants to know about the man, and his growing attractiveness becomes the least of her worries.

Hungry Hearts
By Debby Mayne

When Cameron Prater returns to Hyacinth, South Carolina, to open a restaurant a few doors down from his childhood sweetheart Melissa Shaw’s diner, they are both reminded of the fierce competitiveness that drove them apart. They even try to outdo each other while volunteering for a women’s shelter that their church sponsors, and they deny the fact that the sparks that brought them together years ago still zing. Can these two people put aside their rivalry—and their pride—and let their hearts take over?

Available at:  Amazon

A little about the authors:

Miralee Ferrell

Miralee Ferrell – I love life, love my family, love writing Christian fiction–reading, riding my horse and puttering in my garden are all ways I relax. I often have my little 7 lb Chihuahua, Lacey, on my lap when I’m working–there’s nothing like a warm ball of love on your lap to act as a stress reliever!

First and foremost I’m a child of God and daughter of the King. I’ve been involved in women’s ministries for years, I’m married to a wonderful man, have two grown children, two cats, two dogs, 10 chickens and ride my son-in-law’s Arabian mare since my old mare passed in 2013. We live about 9 miles from the nearest town on 11 acres, in a peaceful setting surrounded by trees.

I started writing shortly after I turned 50, and discovered I loved it so much I don’t want to stop. I have 15 novels out & a five book set of horse novels for middle-grade girls. I write both women’s contemporary fiction, historical & contemporary romance, and horse/mystery novels for girls. One of my Western romances, Love Finds You in Sundance, WY, was awarded the Will Rogers Medallion for Western Fiction, three books have been optioned as movies, and several books have been on the ECPA best seller list. You can find out more about me andmy books at http://miraleeferrell.com/

Kimberly Rose Johnson

Kimberly Rose Johnson married her college sweetheart and lives in the Pacific Northwest. From a young child Kimberly has been an avid reader. That love of reading fostered a creative mind and led to her passion for writing.

She especially loves romance and writes contemporary romance that warms the heart and feeds the soul.

Kimberly holds a degree in Behavioral Science from Northwest University in Kirkland, Washington. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers.

You can sign up for Kimberly’s newsletter via her website at: http://kimberlyrjohnson.com/index.html

Trish Perry

Award-winning novelist Trish Perry has written Miss Apprehension (2017), Under the Dogwood Tree (2016) and Love’s First Stage (2015) for Forget-Me-Not Romances; More Than Meets the Eye for Mountain Brook Ink (2016); Unforgettable (2011, Summerside Press); and Tea for Two (2011), The Perfect Blend (2010), Sunset Beach (2009–winner, 2010 Greater Detroit RWA Award), Beach Dreams (2008), Too Good to Be True (2007), and The Guy I’m Not Dating (2006), all for Harvest House Publishers. She collaborated with several renowned authors on the devotionals Better Than Chocolate for Broadstreet (2015), the Be Still…and Let Your Nail Polish Dry Journal for Ellie Claire (2015), as well as Delight Yourself in the Lord…Even on Bad Hair Days (Spring 2011) and His Grace is Sufficient…Decaf is NOT (Fall 2011) for Summerside Press. Her short Christmas novel, ‘Tis the Season, is featured in Summerside’s Love Finds You on Christmas Morning (2011), along with Debby Mayne’s Deck the Halls. And her novella, Labor of Love, is included in The Midwife’s Legacy, released June 2012 by Barbour.

Perry wrote a monthly column, “Real Life is Stranger,” for Christian Fiction Online Magazine and was editor of Ink and the Spirit, the newsletter of Washington D.C.’s Capital Christian Writers organization for seven years. Before her novels, Perry published numerous short stories, essays, devotionals, and poetry in Christian and general market media.

Perry holds a B.A. in Psychology, was a 1980s stockbroker, and held positions at the Securities and Exchange Commission and in several Washington law firms. She serves on the Board of Directors of CCW and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. She invites you to visit her at http://www.trishperry.com

Debby MayneDebby Mayne is the author of more than 40 novels and novellas that have received the “Top Pick” award from Romantic Times Magazine and been among the “Top 10 Favorites” in the Heartsong Presents book club. She writes family and faith-based romances, cozy mysteries, and women’s fiction. She has also written more than 1,000 short stories and articles as well as dozens of devotions for busy women. She has worked as managing editor of a national health publication, product information writer for a TV retailer, creative writing instructor, and copy editor and proofreader for several book publishers. She is currently an etiquette writer for The Spruce, one of the DotDash (formerly About.com) companies.

Debby grew up in a military family, which meant moving every few years throughout her childhood. Debby was born in Alaska, and she has lived in Mississippi, Tennessee, Oregon, Florida, Hawaii, and Japan. Her parents were both from the Deep South, so she enjoys featuring characters with southern drawls, plenty of down-home cooking, and folks with quirky mannerisms.

She and her husband currently live in the Charleston, South Carolina, area. To learn more about Debby:
Website – debbymayne.com
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/DebbyMayneAuthor
Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/@debbymayne

My Thoughts
As with any novella collection, there were some stories I liked better than others … and I must reluctantly admit there was one novella in this collection which I did not enjoy. As a stand alone book, I would have given Hungry Hearts a two star rating due to what I felt was unnatural dialogue and illogical character behavior. HOWEVER, the other three novellas are 5, 4.5, and 4 star stories which it would be a shame to miss out on based on the other one. These are sweet, fun and fast reads that leave you smiling with that warm fuzzy feeling you want from a sweet romance novella. The characters are engaging and their stories aren’t too far-fetched to believe (a common flaw in novellas where the authors try to cram in too much too fast). Add to those three thoroughly satisfying stories, the fact that the collection is available on Kindle Unlimited and it only costs $3.99 to purchase the digital version, I do feel comfortable recommending this fun collection to anyone looking for a fun romance story that doesn’t take too long to read.

Have you read this collection or any other work by these authors?