The Space Between Words by Michèle Phoenix

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From the publisher:

“There were seconds, when I woke, when the world felt unshrouded. Then memory returned.”

When Jessica regains consciousness in a French hospital on the day after the Paris attacks, all she can think of is fleeing the site of the horror she survived. But Patrick, the steadfast friend who hasn’t left her side, urges her to reconsider her decision. Worn down by his insistence, she reluctantly agrees to follow through with the trip they’d planned before the tragedy.

“The pages found you,” Patrick whispered.

“Now you need to figure out what they’re trying to say.”

During a stop at a country flea market, Jessica finds a faded document concealed in an antique. As new friends help her to translate the archaic French, they uncover the story of Adeline Baillard, a young woman who lived centuries before—her faith condemned, her life endangered, her community decimated by the Huguenot persecution.

“I write for our descendants, for those who will not understand the cost of our survival.”

Determined to learn the Baillard family’s fate, Jessica retraces their flight from France to England, spurred on by a need she doesn’t understand.

Could this stranger who lived three hundred years before hold the key to Jessica’s survival?


My Review:

The description of this book snagged my attention, and I couldn’t resist reading it. Now, I’m grateful to have read it, for it has given me a new perspective: a deeper understanding of the effects of terrorism, both in our world today and in our history.

How do I put the beauty of this novel into words? Phoenix has crafted a novel with genuine characters, flawed and loveable and completely real; with drama that is timely and relevant, yet still hauntingly beautiful; with history and heartache and healing and hope.

This is a book that uses the power of fiction to present truths that will affect you profoundly. Read it with an open heart and a box of tissues.

Many, many thanks to Thomas Nelson and NetGalley for the advanced copy of this novel for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own. 🙂

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Some Small Magic by Billy Coffey

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From the book:

She whispers, “I’m supposed to take you home.”

“Not yet,” Abel says. “Please, just not yet.”

“All Abel wants is a little bit of magic in his life. Enough money so his mom doesn’t cry at night. Healing for his broken body. And maybe a few answers about his past.

“When Abel discovers letters to him from the dad he believed dead, he wonders if magic has come to the hills of Mattingly, Virginia, after all. But not everything is as it seems.

“With a lot of questions and a little bit of hope, Abel decides to run away to find the truth. But danger follows him from the moment he jumps his first boxcar, forcing Abel to rely upon his simpleminded friend Willie—a man wanted for murder who knows more about truth than most—and a beautiful young woman who was already on the train. From Appalachia to the Tennessee wilds and through the Carolina mountains, the name of a single small town beckons: Fairhope. That is where Abel believes his magic lays. But will it be the sort that will bring a broken boy healing? And is that the magic that will one day lead him home?”

If you’ve not yet read a Billy Coffey novel, you are seriously missing out. His novels are brimming with mystery, wonder, and even magic, strumming the readers’ heartstrings with lyrical prose and spiritual beauty. And Coffey’s latest, Some Small Magic, hits all the right notes: I laughed, I cried, I sat in shock, and my heart smiled (and more than once for all of them!).

Abel and Dumb Willie are characters that you desperately wish you could hug, just hold them and love them. Yet, at the same time, they are such amazing examples of strength and perseverance that you have to kind of sit back  in respect. They are the type of characters that make you rethink what you really believe about the people around you, and that is a relatively rare and tremendously awesome thing to find in a story.

With shades of such beautiful novels as Of Mice and Men and The Book Thief, Coffey’s Some Small Magic is a tale not to be missed, but to be savored and reread for years to come. It releases March 14, 2017, so be sure to grab your copy and curl up for a wonder-filled story of love, hope, and Some Small Magic.

Many thanks to Thomas Nelson and NetGalley for the chance to read this book early. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂

The Girl From the Train by Irma Joubert

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As a member of the Polish Resistance, Jacob Kowalski will do anything to help stop the advance of the Nazis. But when an unscheduled train bound for Auschwitz crosses the tracks he’s just blown up, Jacob finds himself strapped with a new problem – young Gretl Schmidt escaped that train and is now on her own. The daughter of a deceased German SS officer and a Jewish mother, blond-haired, blue-eyed Gretl worms her way into Jacob’s heart. But with the unrest in Poland, Jacob realizes that he has to find a way to keep Gretl safe, which means sending her far away. Though she’s adopted by a family in South Africa, Gretl always remembers that the same moon she sees at night also shines on Poland and her unforgettable friend, Jacob Kowalski.

What a beautiful story! While it is a work of fiction, the care with which it is written makes it almost feel like a biography. I love how Joubert managed weaving the warp of Gretl’s story with the weft of Jacob’s story. Some of her descriptions are simply striking, and her writing is consistently poignant. Occasionally the writing seems a little bit choppy, but that is simply because it has been translated into English. At times the story is heart-wrenching (and, yes, tear-inspiring), but the lessons of love and the triumph of spirit more than balance the scales.

I would highly recommend this book, especially to those who enjoy historical and literary fiction.

Many thanks to Thomas Nelson Publishers and NetGalley for the free copy of this book for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own.