Book Review: A Girl's Guide to the Outback by Jessica Kate

I had seen reviews of A Girl’s Guide to the Outback by Jessica Kate on Instagram which raised my curiosity. I decided to see whether my library had a copy of the book. They did and soon after it arrived for me to read.

Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Christian Fiction

Blurb:

Samuel Payton is a passionate youth pastor in Virginia, but beneath the surface, Sam’s still recovering from a failed business. His coworker—start-up expert Kimberly Foster—is brilliant, fearless, and capable, but her mother’s rejection from a young age till now has left her defensive and longing for a family. Two people have never been more at odds—or more attracted to one another. And every day at work, the sparks are flying.

When Kimberly’s ambitious plans for Sam’s ministry butt up against his risk-averse nature, Sam decides that obligations to family trump his work for the church. He quits the ministry and flies home to Australia to help his family save their struggling farm—much to Kimberly’s chagrin. As Kimberly’s grand plans flounder, she is forced to face the truth: that no one can replace Sam. To what lengths will she go to get him back?

My thoughts:

A Girl’s Guide to the Outback is a romance written in a 3 person point of view. The pacing throughout the novel keeps the reader interested as the author shares a story about ordinary people. What was different in this romance to others I have read, is the Christian slant to it.

Not only was the story clean (no steamy sex scenes) but it also sent out a very Christian message: to trust in God and to let Him lead you to where you are to go in love and life. The growth of the characters in the story as they come to certain realisations is also linked to their belief in God and to their Christian values. They reach their full potential in the story when they realise they have to completely put their trust in God.

The pacing in the novel was good throughout and there was only one section in the story where I got a little bored: the description of when Kimberley doubted herself – it felt a little repetitive. I enjoyed reading a romance that was focused on the spiritual side of a relationship instead of a physical one and will definitely look out for more stories by this author.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This novel was the 20th novel in my book pledge for 2020)

Book Review: My Name is Sam by Joe Siccardi

I was contacted by the author, Joe Siccardi to read and review one of his independent novels. His books are Christian based and the synopsis of My Name is Sam looked interesting as it suggested the story of Christian woman and her lifetime.

Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Christian fiction

Blurb:

Sit down with a cup of coffee or a nice wine and visit with Sam as she shares a lifetime of memories in this new Christian-themed fictional memoir. My Name Is Sam … and Heaven Is Still Shining Through is a follow-up to the breakout novella, Heaven Shining Through. It introduces Sam (Samantha), her family and friends in more detail than the original, and picks up where the novella left off. I hope readers get to know Sam as a friend, a life long friend. Share her life … complete with some drama, some humor, some heart tugs. Just a free-willed suburban Jersey girl trying to figure out this journey called life with the presence of God in an ordinary life as the underlying theme.

My thoughts:

My first thought upon reading this book is that the story was too condensed. I would have liked to read the details of Sam’s life and learn more about the ups and downs in her life. Squeezing the story of a life into the form of a short novel did not work for me as it took away my ability to truly immerse myself in the life that was described. In addition, some events in the life story were glossed over – events that could have led to thought-provoking soundbites.

Siccardi tells us Sam’s story instead of showing us. As a result, I did not feel much emotion while reading – even when Sam experiences some sad moments in her life. What is missing from the narrative is the sense of what the characters in the story are feeling. As a reader, I enjoy the experience of the words forming pictures in my mind: of the characters, what they look like, what they are doing, the emotions they are feeling. My Name is Sam did not give me any of that experience and, therefore, I found it difficult to be invested in the book.

When I opened the pages of this novel, I was hoping to read an inspirational story that is Christian-based. As expected, Sam does experience some difficult moments in her faith. These difficulties, however, are not explored. I found myself wishing that they had been as reading about a character overcoming the difficulties of her faith would have been interesting and inspirational.

Siccardi is an independent author who has taken the time to ensure that his book is professional and well written. The book is easy to read and I found it kept my interest right until the end. The ending of the story is beautifully written and brought tears to my eyes. It is the magic of the last page that I was looking for throughout the novel.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️ 2 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 68th in my book pledge for 2019)