Klepfer came on board Novel Reviews several years
ago as the
Senior Editor through
connections with Gina Holmes, Ane Mulligan and Jessica Dotta of Novel
Reviews is the baby sister of the popular Novel
Journey. At Novel Reviews we offer honest reviews of
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NOVEL REVIEWS CORNER
Oceans by Gine Holmes
Published by Tyndale
Sometimes love demands the impossible
Nothing deepens a stream like a good rain . . . or makes it harder to
cross. Jenny Lucas swore she’d never go home again. But life has a way
of upending even the best-laid plans. Now, years after she left, she
and her five-year-old daughter must return to her sleepy North Carolina
town to face the ghosts she left behind. They welcome her in the form
of her oxygen tank-toting grandmother, her stoic and distant father,
and David, Isabella’s dad . . . who doesn’t yet know he has a daughter.
As Jenny navigates the rough and unknown waters of her new reality, the
unforgettable story that unfolds is a testament to the power of love to
change everything—to heal old hurts, to bring new beginnings . . . even
to overcome the impossible.
Time! There never seems to be enough time to do the things that matter!
Knowing you only had months to live, what would you do? (Thanks to the
publisher for the review copy of Crossing Oceans.) I have to be honest
I didn’t think I could read this book because I had lost my dad to
cancer a short time ago. But Gina Holmes pens a brilliant story of love
and sacrifice. It’s one I won't soon forget!
Gina Holmes’s story reminds me of A Walk to Remember and The Notebook
both written by Nicholas Sparks. This author has an amazing gift to
masterfully blend together a memorable story filled with a special
tenderness, hope, love, forgiveness, mixed with a sense of well-timed
humor, throughout her book, that touched my heart deeply. It ignited
warm feelings of love and hope inside I can’t explain.
Isabella’s mom, Jenny is sick. Jenny is on a mission to go to North
Carolina, to make peace with her family and her past. She knows what
it’s like to lose a mom at a young age. She was going to do everything
in her power to make this journey easier for her daughter.
Five-year-old Isabella is the common denominator between two families
not fond of each other. She looks to her mom, Jenny, for an
understanding of the change taking place in her world. Jenny reaches
out to God for the strength to do the impossible. I could only hope God
would give me the strength to be like Jenny when my time is near.
I anxiously turned the pages of Crossing Oceans, as I read of Jenny’s
last days and remembered my dad’s. As I finished the last page, healing
tears slid down my cheeks and a knot formed in my throat; forever
touched in my heart, mind and emotions by the words I had read.
This author gave me a peak into how it might be to have my heavenly
daddy and my earthly daddy waiting for me when it’s my time to run into
their loving arms! Home at last! God prepares us for this passage if we
let him. Gina gave me a glimpse into a young woman’s crossing to the
life after—a journey all of us must take.
Gina Holmes, this book is a gift to me and I suspect it will be for
many others. I had no idea you could write like this. I’m excited at
what God can do through your obedience to Him, your writing and this
book. I’ll be waiting in line to read your next book for sure! Yes,
there will be a line :D
by Nora St Laurent "Finding
Hope Through Fiction"
ACFW Book Club
I am always hesitant to review a book written by a friend. Can you
imagine how much more apprehensive I was reading the debut novel from
not only a friend but a critique partner? A critique partner lives to
rip and shred work to point out what's wrong and what needs to be
changed to make the work readable.
Though I've critiqued Gina Holmes for years, I had just glimpses into
Crossing Oceans and I knew it was a very different style from her
previous suspense novels. Her suspense is strong. But how well would
her voice translate to women's fiction?
Once I opened her book and began to read I can say that her voice
translates with a poignant grace that is rare in a debut novelist. And
Crossing Oceans is a story that Holmes was meant to tell.
Holmes tackles a heavy story line with a touch of whimsy and deep, deep
melancholy, sometimes in the same paragraph. A young mother,
emotionally orphaned when her mother died and father cocooned himself
in a cloak of angry grief, finds herself forced to return to the home
she had escaped. Jenny has Stage IV metastatic cancer and must reunite
with the family she fled for the sake of her little girl's very near
future need. With less than a year to repair and restore relationships
Jenny tackles the past and the future, the present and the pain, all
while attempting to give her daughter, Isabella, memories and love and
what life she has available to give.
This is a novel that quickly overcame the author and my relationship
with her. The story told itself in a realistic and three-dimensional
tale of life and death, sorrow and fear, choices and consequences, pain
and beauty, loss and hope. Holmes voice is similar to some of my
favorite authors in the Christian fiction genre, Siri Mitchell, Charles
Martin, Susan Meissner, Claudia Mair Burney, Lisa Samson and Bonnie
Crossing Oceans is not an easy read. It is haunting and beautiful and
raw. Expect to cry and expect to remember this family long after you
turn the last page.
Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer
at: "Scrambled Dregs"
Marks: A Novel Kimberly Stuart
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition (September 1, 2009)
Mia is a granola-eating, sensible shoe–wearing, carbon
footprint–conscious twenty-something living in a multicultural
neighborhood in Chicago. Her mother, Babs, is a stiletto-wearing Zsa
Zsa Gabor type who works as an activities hostess on a Caribbean cruise
line … and if you guessed there’s some tension there, you’d be right.
Factor in an unexpected pregnancy and Mia’s idealistic boyfriend—Lars
is such a visionary he doesn’t believe in the institution of
marriage—and the mother-daughter relationship is, well, stretched very
thin. As is Mia’s sanity when Babs shows up to … help.
With a healthy dose of wit and a touch of whimsy Kimberly Stuart takes
on the challenge of a prickly yoga enthusiast who inadvertently ends up
pregnant by her tree-hugging, commitment/job-phobe live-in. This alone
is enough to challenge Christian fiction readers. But that's not all
this novel is about. Toss in the estranged mother who is opposite in
all ways and pushy about it. Add a touching teen Juno situation and a
will-they, won't-they romantic scenario and, well, you get the general
idea, lots of drama and opportunity for change.
This out-of-wedlock pregnancy from a live-in arrangement is a plot
enthusiastically brought to you by David C. Cook who seem to have heard
the cry of those who are looking for realistic fiction with a bit of
heavenly hope tossed in. I applaud the decisions being made at David C.
Cook. Not only are the recent novels edgy, but they are well-written.
The scenario of Mia and her unraveling life leaves a lot of opportunity
for Mia to come to terms with reality. She is forced to look at the
world a little differently since she is carrying a child. The Christian
elements in this novel are light. You won't find verses at the
beginning of each chapter. Sensitive readers may find a bit to squirm
about as Mia and company aren't exactly embracing a Christian walk.
There was maybe a bit too much story which hindered some development of
a couple of relationships and some timing issues popped up now and
Reviewed by Kelly Klepfer
at "Scrambled Dregs"
She Walks in Beauty by
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Bethany House; Original edition (April 1, 2010)
For a young society woman seeking a favorable marriage, so much depends
on her social season debut. Clara Carter has been given one goal:
secure the affections of the city's most eligible bachelor.
Debuting means plenty of work--there are corsets to be fitted, dances
to master, manners to perfect. Her training soon pays off, however, as
celebrity's spotlight turns Clara into a society-page darling.
Yet Clara soon wonders if this is the life she really wants. Especially
when she learns her best friend has also set her sights on Franklin De
When a man appears who seems to love her simply for who she is and
gossip backlash turns ugly, Clara realizes it's not just her marriage
at stake--the future of her family depends on how she plays the game.
If you would like to read the first chapter of She Walks in Beauty, go HERE.
“Why do we have to pretend to
be people that we aren’t? Why do we have to be thinner than we are, and
happier than we feel, and know the uses of dozens of kinds of spoons
when usually just one will do?”
Clara Carter was quite brilliant to ask so many intelligent questions!
Although the society she was born to frowned upon women who attempted
to learn anything at all beyond the required social graces, Clara was
blessed with the fortitude not only to learn, but to continually
question everything. The answers that eventually reveal themselves are
both shocking and heart-breaking!
From the moment her aunt tightly laced her into her first corset and
began to teach her to talk about nothing in particular, Clara felt the
falsehoods of proper society deeply. Clara’s father and aunt acted with
unnatural determination to ensure that her debut in society coincided
with the heir of De Vries’s return from abroad. For you see, the
pursuit of a spouse among properly suited society was painfully
purposeful and included the act of cutting – literally and completely
snubbing someone. Both Clara and her best friend Lizzie are set upon a
collision course in an effort to become engaged to the heir of the
DeVries fortune. Eventually, one of the two would be cut from the race!
She Walks In Beauty carried my heart and mind into the very depths of
the Gilded Age. New York’s upper class in the late 1800’s was as
opulent and ostentatious as the imagination was able to reach. Young
women were molded and poured into a set of social graces as rigid and
unforgiving as the corsets they wore beneath their gowns, and the
results were often just as deadly! Clara’s situation was particularly
heart-breaking, because her mother had died at a young age, and her
father paid her little attention. When the decision was reached that
Clara would debut a year early, her aunt fired her governess and truest
confidante. The moment Clara lit into her aunt over this rash decision
I knew that there was much more to her character than even she
And oh! How I praised God for Harry De Vries! And his sister Katherine!
Harry may have been the younger of the two brothers, but he had more
character in his pinky finger than old Franklin had in his entire
All in all, every detail of this social setting is carefully designed
and cleverly paces so the reader’s anxiety reaches “hysterical” levels
as the story nears its end. On page 341 Clara’s thoughts finally become
crystal clear and these thoughts come to mind: “Just in case, I
whispered a prayer. I prayed that if God truly cared for me, just as I
was, that He would make a path for me. Because there would be no
undoing what I was about to do.”
Praise God, He answers prayer! The last chapters of this book will
leave you breathless! You cannot imagine where God’s hand moves in the
lives of these characters! After all of the pompous, self-centered
depravity of New York’s society pours its filth upon Clara Carter, she
discovers the truth behind these wise words: “I must insist that you
matter to Him much more than you seem to realize.” (p. 159)
Reader, this review has waxed too long, but I want to make sure you
understand the full scope of Siri Mitchell’s She Walks in Beauty! There
are moments that will make you laugh out loud (the visit with the
mortician’s wife!), and there are moments that will make you weep. You
will shake your head in wonder that two seventeen-year-old girls would
be thrust into such extreme social settings. You will also feel like
shouting in glorious praise when these same young women blossom into
ladies who reflect all that is truly precious in the human heart. She
Walks In Beauty is most excellent!! I cannot recommend this novel
by Kim Ford at "Window To My World"
Siri Mitchell's historicals have been some of my favorite books. She
Walks In Beauty is not an exception.
With poignancy, grace and beautiful prose, Mitchell, takes the reader
back to the late 1800's. In a time when women had few choices and
society had many expectations, Mitchell introduces us to Clara Carter,
a young lady who must debut and must catch the most eligible and
desirable bachelor in the city.
The story is full of rich details of the gloss and glitter of the
affluent and powerful and stark glimpses of what lies beneath the
If you love historicals or Siri Mitchell, run , don't walk, to a
Reviewed by Kelly
Klepfer at "Scrambled Dregs"