Kelly Klepfer

Kelly Klepfer came on board Novel Reviews several years ago as the Senior Editor through her connections with Gina Holmes, Ane Mulligan and Jessica Dotta of Novel Journey fame. Novel Reviews is the baby sister of the popular Novel Journey. At Novel Reviews we offer honest reviews of Christian and secular fiction titles and love to promote exceptional fiction. We began to do so after we met the authors via their interviews at Novel Journey. Disclaimer: Our reviewers are not paid for their reviews. Some may consider the receiving of a complimentary book or loosley bound manuscript (by publisher or author), as a form of compensation, so, be forewarned that our reviewers RECEIVE BOOKS. In our defense, it would be difficult to review without them. (Also, we are not affiliated or paid for any links to online bookstores.)

Novel Reviews


Dry As RainDry as Rain
by Gina Holmes
Published by Tyndale House Publisher, Inc.(September 1)
ISBN# 978-1414333069
400 Pages


From the bestselling author of Crossing Oceans comes a powerfully moving story that tests the limits of love’s forgiveness. Like many marriages, Eric and Kyra Yoshida’s has fallen apart slowly, one lost dream and misunderstanding at a time, until the ultimate betrayal finally pushes them beyond reconciliation. Just when it looks like forgive and forget is no longer an option; a car accident gives Eric the second chance of a lifetime. A concussion causes his wife to forget details of her life, including the chasm between them. No one knows when—or if—Kyra’s memory will return, but Eric seizes the opportunity to win back the woman he’s never stopped loving.


I was thankful to receive a review copy of Gina Holmes new book. I liked her main character Eric. He has a chance to take a good long look at his life and says, “When I’d first became a Christian, I read what Adam and Eve had done in the Garden of Eden and it really ticked me off. Now, I knew that I was no different then they were. I guess none of us are.” How true!

I enjoyed Eric’s honesty. His world was on the fast track to success! He sought the good things in life, a nice home in a good neighborhood only the best for his family! Of course there were sacrifices that had to be made in order to achieve his goal but it would be worth it. Right? He was determined to be at work early, stay late, and work holidays. His job came first! How else would he be able to provide for his family? They’d understand! So he thought!

Then realization hits him. Had all this money brought him happiness? No, he was more miserable than ever. He missed the early days of his family before they moved into the fancy neighborhood. Now his son was in the service and his wife kicked him out of the house. Then Eric gets a call. There’s been an accident and his wife has lost some of her memory! She’s forgotten they are separated! Eric and the Doctor felt it’s best to let Kyra regain her memory before they tell her the realities of her life. Her memory would return soon enough!

Eric wondered if he should take this time to let his wife know him again. How many people get a chance like this? Have a do-over? Maybe he could win her back! Time was ticking. He was in a race against the time her memory would return and remember why they were separated in the first place!

Gina Holmes pens an honest look at a couple whose drifted apart and doomed for divorce. Then an unforeseen car accident brings them together in a surprising way. It seems they have a fresh start.

I liked how this author shows what’s important in life and how easily we can lose track of our relationships when we start pursuing money; leaving relationships behind thinking they’ll still be there when we are done chasing the prize. God’s called us to a balanced life and one totally dependent on Him. I enjoyed this novel and its message. I look forward to reading other books by this author.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent at: The Book Club Network

Bonus Review:

Dry as Rain is a completely different book than Gina Holmes’s freshman release, Crossing Oceans, but it is as well-written as thought provoking as Oceans. Told in first person male voice, this story explores the theme of death, like Oceans, but the death is a slow, lingering death of a marriage. By the time the reader is introduced to the characters the marriage has crumbled into full separation, it is at the point where those who vowed to love til death do them part now revile the very faces that made those promises. Bitterness, blame, misunderstandings and selfishness have replaced all that was good and promising in the marriage.

These hindsight-wisdom tinged details all come out through the inner thought life and conversations of the husband, Eric. The wife, Kyra is in no position to share her thoughts with the reader because an accident has left her without memories of the rancor. Because she believes that their marriage is what it once was, the doctor suggests that the couple reconcile temporarily until her memory begins to return. Eric is given a chance at a do-over. But can he possibly win back his wife’s heart before she sees the disaster of what their marriage has become?

Holmes successfully weaves in some story elements that would be soap-operish if not written with skill and capable hands. I was also impressed with the honest grit that Holmes realistically portrayed. The characters are an authentic mix of likeable and frustratingly selfish at times. Kyra is not as fleshed out as Eric because the story is written in his POV. There are themes in this novel that will make some want to avoid it as it hits heavy in areas that some Christian fiction sidesteps around. There are also Christian themes of redemption and forgiveness that might push some folks away as well. Quite a bit of time is covered in the novel, so there are months covered with just a few pages, but as much as that takes away from the intimacy, it does help with reader emotions. If you are seeking stories that stick with you and leave you with hope. This is one of those. Tired of the sugar-coated, sit-com-simple style of inspirational fiction that falls flat and leaves you hungry for honestly drawn, broken, but forgiven people struggling through life’s struggles by clinging to grace, then this is one to look into.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer at: Scrambled Dregs

Opposite of ArtThe Opposite of Art
by Athol Dickson
Published by Howard books
ISBN# 978-1-4165-8348-6
362 pages


A poor woman in a shabby Los Angeles apartment receives an original oil painting by one of modern art’s great masters, easily worth half a million dollars. Although the artist has been dead for a quarter century, the painting appears to have been recently completed. When the world’s foremost authority on the artist’s work pronounces it authentic, three lives are destined to collide: the sketch artist and roustabout at a traveling Mexican circus who longs to paint the face of God, the daughter the sketch artist does not know he has, and the man who plans to kill them both.


Athol lets the reader experience his passion and love of art through the life of his main character, Sheridan Ridler, Artist extraordinaire. This author pens an honest, gritty story of an artist tormented by love and his quest to find the Glory he experienced and paint it, in vivid detail so others could experience it too.

Athol Dickson tackles serious issues in the middle of a compelling dramatic mystery using the art field as the back drop. I was thankful to receive a review copy of this profound and moving story. Athol’s a deep thinker and so is his character Ridler. I enjoyed the author’s passion for art which shown through on every page and his colorful array of characters. Somewhere in search of power, money, and love - All of them desired peace and meaning for their mixed up lives.

This author lets the reader experience Ridler’s younger years with pot parties, and free love. Everything was ok in the art world, according to Ridler. He was a genius and could paint anything he put his mind to. One thing he refused to paint was faces. Ridler says, “I don’t paint peoples faces, because the paintings are about me. What I’m trying to work out. What I want to understand. If I gave them faces, it would be about the models.”

Ridler felt art was an honest expression of the soul--it also reflected life through his eyes. One night tragedy strikes. Ridler experiences something that changes him and the way he paints forever. He never sees things or life the same. He wakes up and is compelled to paint what he's seen! Problem is it's a little foggy right now. He's not quite sure of everything he saw and experienced. Ridler embarks on a journey kind of like Dorothy of the Wizard of Oz when she wakes up in a strange and magical land in search of home. He's passionate in his hunt for God and desire to experience the glory. It's not as easy as following the yellow brick road. There’d be no rest for him until he found the image - gaze at it longer and hard to capture all it's splendor.

Ridler’s search takes him all around the globe, experiencing many types of religions in hopes of discovering the one true God. He's compelled to paint the glory he can't remember exactly.. He had to see it again- in order to paint it. But would he recognize this love, glory and innocence if he came upon it? That’s where his present meets his past life, life before the tragedy and the amazing experience. Why were people after him? All he ever wanted to do was paint what was on his heart! Was that a crime?

Athol takes the reader into the world of art, greed, murder and mystery when Ridler’s past meets his present! Athol does have some drug and alcohol references and sexual content that made me feel a little uncomfortable in the beginning of the story. There is no profanity--I would rate it PG 13. I knew the author wanted the reader to experience Ridler’s life, heart and mind along with his brilliant paintings in the early years.

This is the first novel I’ve read by Athol it won’t be the last. I liked Athol’s passion for art, his powerful imagination and how he gets into the heart and mind of his characters. If you enjoy art, mysteries and a wild ride across time and the globe you’ll enjoy The Opposite of Art!

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent at: The Book Club Network

Bonus Review:

Athol Dickson writes like no one else. He is a storyteller with impeccable timing and the ability to wend oddities and knowledge into the narrative of his books. His writing is compelling and at times beautiful, pregnant with meaning and symbolism and hidden truths about the human condition. Other times he paints less than flattering pictures that are as stark and as poignant as the beautiful scenes.

His characters are deep, though sometimes they are fleeting. Rich narrative introspection gives insight into a character’s drives and behaviors but still leaves the reader with plenty of unanswered questions to digest.

The Opposite of Art centerpiece is focused on a painter. A famous and tortured painter who trashes a relationship with the only person he’s ever loved. An accident leaves him presumed dead, and in a sense reborn. Gone is his selfish drive to feed his needs with women and drugs, it has been replaced with a yawning emptiness that leaves him exhausting himself trying to chase what he thinks might fill it. An epic spiritual journey spanning decades begins, and is told through stories and memories. Add to the palette, a young woman with father hunger, a man obsessed to possess what had belonged to the artist, and another seeking justice and peace.

Not a light read. Expect to need to put it down and ponder. Expect to be challenged. Though deeply spiritual, fans of traditional and tamer Christian Fiction may find some of the subject matter offensive. And those who want neatly buttoned up stories may find the ending frustrating. Also, this story is very literary, full of descriptions and lighter on action. If you like fast moving, action packed adventures, or a clear-cut Christian doctrine filled narrative you may want to dig a little deeper before purchasing.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer at: Scrambled Dregs

Composing AmeliaComposing Amelia
by Alison Strobel
Published by David C Cook
ISBN# 978-1-4347-6773-8
320 Pages


Can a brand-new marriage withstand the weight of generations-old baggage? Newlyweds Amelia and Marcus Sheffield are recent college grads, trying to stay afloat in LA while searching for their dream jobs. Marcus hopes to become a mega-church pastor. Amelia has an esteemed music degree, and longs to play piano professionally. The Sheffields are clearly city people.

But when a small town church offers Marcus a job, the couple’s dedication to their dreams and each other is tested. After a risky compromise is made, Amelia falls into a dark emotional place, where she finds skeletons she’d fought hard to deny. In desperation, she calls out to God. But why can’t she find Him? While Amelia struggles, Marcus learns news that nearly crushes him. He must lean on his faith to withstand the pressure… or risk losing his wife forever.


I’m thankful to have received a review copy of Alison Strobel’s powerful new book! I applaud Alison for her intimate portrayal of the internal struggle most Christians deal with at one time or another! The battle waged in our minds is huge! The lies we believe about others, ourselves and God is crazy! God’s word says that the truth will set the captives free! Alison Strobel shows the countless emotional layers we could go through to get to the truth that will set us free! It’s not easy but well worth the work to get to the truth.

I loved how Alison’s characters became aware of the lies they believed about themselves. This awareness started the renewing of their minds as they walked out of their captivity and embraced what Christ said they were; not man!

Amelia and Marcus are newlyweds starting a life together fresh out of college. Both want to help the other fulfill their dreams! They map out a plan and send resume’s to parts of the USA where Marcus can get a job as a Pastor and Amelia can pursue her career as a pianist! Both were rooting for the big cities so they could make their dreams a reality! Wasn’t God going to give this to them? After all they made a commitment to Him? Isn’t that how this Christian thing worked?

It’s hard to trust God when we don’t understand why stuff happens to innocent people? Amelia and Marcus expected God to provide help whenever possible to fulfill their dreams! Their calling! Shouldn’t we expect that from God? Aren’t Christian couples guaranteed a happily ever after?

This couple soon finds out that life doesn’t guarantee anything. Marriage takes work and sacrifice! They both start living a life they never thought they would. This wasn’t their game plan! I liked Marcus and Amelia and their gut wrenching honesty with each other, themselves and God. These characters were so real to me. I cared about them and their complicated situation. I also liked how they got mad at God; each had their own way of expressing these feeling.

Amelia says to herself, “If God thought He could fool around with her heart that way, then she’d fight Him for it…It’s my life, she reminded God in her angry head. And if you’re going to work that way, then you can just back off!”

I liked how they got real with each other. Marcus says, “The bottom line is that you’ve stopped trusting God. You don’t trust Him to lead you. You don’t trust Him to have a plan for your life that you’d actually love. You seem to think your future success rests solely on your own efforts!”

Alison captures the essence of how doubt enters our mind, and how quickly we start to put up walls to protect our heart and not let God work in our lives. We think we know better. Ouch! I’ve been there! Marcus nails it, “God’s ways are not our ways, Amelia love. And neither is His timing. We can’t see what He’s orchestrating behind the scenes!”

The emotions they dealt with as they peeled back the layers of their lives was raw. It’s easy to believe God when everything’s going your way but what do you do when it stops and live throws you a curve ball? God sees the bigger picture and can work through us in any circumstance, if we let Him. I enjoyed this author’s look at some common things couples go through. This is definitely Alison’s best book so far! I highly recommend reading it more than once (there is so much good stuff in there) and passing it onto friends!

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent at: The Book Club Network

Bonus Review:

This book intrigued me from the title to the last chapter. It's a very raw and real look into the lives of a newlywed couple just out of college still trying to figure a lot of things out-things like how to compromise to make their marriage work, where their dreams will take them, and who they individuals and as a couple in Christ. But when things happen, like Marcus getting offered a job as senior pastor to a small church in "middle-of-nowhere" Nebraska (hahaha) fresh out of seminary; and Amelia becoming pianist for a new musical theatre group in LA, their ideas on Gods will seem to conflict and collide. Ultimately deeper issues of insecurities and mental disorders are revealed....can they make it through and still remain faithful to each other and to their faith in the Master Planner, God? Find out by reading, 'composing amelia'. I really enjoyed this entire book-it went to some dark and difficult places that few dare to venture in. I was very impressed with how realistically everything is portrayed; and how, Alison gets across that though it doesn't always feel like God is there that He truly cares about us..God is the only thing that matters in the end.

Reviewed by: Rachael Schnitker

Bonus Review:

Composing Amelia is a well-written novel that explores a lot of difficult issues. Prayer, childhood shaping, real “Christianity” vs. social, mental illness, marriage and faith, and each of these areas are handled with respect and an honesty that is refreshing. The trend of telling-it-like-it-often-is rather than the sanitized version of what it “should” be in Christian Fiction is an excellent trend. Why? Because stories should grab the heart, and a good story grabs the heart and hangs onto it. A story designed to tell the truth about life and the need we have to become better rather than victims is a good story indeed.

Good story that it is, Composing Amelia not without areas that could be controversial and challenging to those who prefer very sanitized stories. However, if you long for fiction that points to God and tells the truth about we complicated and challenging humans who need Him, get a copy.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer at: Scrambled Dregs