Summer Reading

I dug through my TBR list this month and found some keepers. I also purchased a few new ones this summer. One of which is Lisa Carter’s Carolina Reckoning. I gobbled it up this past week. 🙂

Carolina Reckoning

Alison wanted her husband gone, not dead . . . When Alison Monaghan discovers proof of her husband’s infidelity, she plans to confront him. But she never gets that chance. Frank never makes it home. Soon his body is found on a lonely back-country road in antebellum Weathersby Historic Park where Frank served on the board of directors and where Alison is a volunteer garden docent. Homicide detective Mike Barefoot, a Cherokee native from the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, immediately puts Alison at the top of his suspect list. He also finds himself drawn to her—and not just because she had motive for the crime. Mike usually keeps his emotional walls high, and as a detective, he knows not to get involved with murder suspects. So why is he so attracted to Alison? Can he fight his feelings for her—and find the killer before Alison becomes the next target? Purchase Here.


I’m currently reading an advanced copy of Linda Rodante’s new novella Fire.

When a violent gang re-organizes, an undercover cop could lose everything…including the woman he loves.

Following a gang war, the undercover cop known as Patriot is forced to flee his hometown and assume a new identity. When the gang re-organizes and threatens a friend, Patriot—now a firefighter—returns to face them.

Chloe Swearingen confines herself to the fast pace of the ER and away from interpersonal relationships—for a reason she keeps to herself. But when she helps save a gangster’s life, she’s thrown into a cauldron of relationships from which she can’t escape.

Then a series of fires target Chloe, her church and her friends, and she and Patriot must risk their lives to bring an end to the forces of darkness arraigned against them. Preorder Here.

Story Trumps Structure: How to Write Unforgettable Fiction by Breaking The Rules

I’ve also added Steven James’ nonfiction book to the pile.

All too often, following the “rules” of writing can constrict rather than inspire you. With Story Trumps Structure, you can shed those rules – about three-act structure, rising action, outlining, and more – to craft your most powerful, emotional, and gripping stories.

Award-winning novelist Steven James explains how to trust the narrative process to make your story believable, compelling, and engaging, and debunks the common myths that hold writers back from creating their best work.

   • Ditch your outline and learn to write organically.
   • Set up promises for readers – and deliver on them.
   • Discover how to craft a satisfying climax.
   • Master the subtleties of characterization.
   • Add mind-blowing twists to your fiction.

When you focus on what lies at the heart of story – tension, desire, crisis, escalation, struggle, discovery – rather than plot templates and formulas, you’ll begin to break out of the box and write fiction that resonates with your readers. Story Trumps Structure will transform the way you think about stories and the way you write them, forever. Purchase Here.

Shelter in God, Your Refuge in Times of Trouble

I’m currently reading Shelter in God. Dr. Jeremiah offers an in-depth look at Psalms and how we can apply David’s prayers to our current circumstances. Recommended reading.

Shelter-in-place orders around the world have people questioning, “Does God see us? Can he help us through this nerve-racking time? Dr. David Jeremiah shares through psalms that God is always walking beside us. Now is the time to Shelter in God.

Renowned pastor and teacher Dr. David Jeremiah believes comfort can be found in the Psalms, both now during the coronavirus pandemic and during all of life’s greatest challenges. This newly collected volume will show how finding refuge in God is always our safest place. Shelter in God offers hope in a time of uncertainty and relief to people who are experiencing real troubles and fear.

  • Find ways to worship in times of trouble,
  • experience prayer in pressure,
  • show grace when you are at your wits’ end, and
  • with God’s help, triumph over trouble. 

Shelter in God is an invaluable source of help and encouragement for people facing major obstacles during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. 

Portions of Shelter in God were previously included in Dr. Jeremiah’s classic When Your World Falls Apart. Purchase Link

There you have it. What are you reading? Do you read more than one book at a time?

Women of Faith and Fiction ~ Trisha Robertson

I love reading a book review because I enjoy hearing the reader’s ideas. Every reader will bring something different to the table. So this year for Women of Faith and Fiction, I wanted to give a shout-out to the book reviewers. They do a marvelous job! Let’s begin.


Who is Trisha Robertson?

Hi, my name is Trisha Robertson. I am a book reviewer/blogger. I have always loved stories. My love of reading began around age 8 and I’ve had my nose in a book ever since. I started writing stories of my own in elementary school. Stories that have never seen the light of day, and many that are lost to the dust of time. I especially enjoy reading and learning about History. Be sure to stop by my blog and say “Hello!” You can find me at

You can also follow me at these locations:






Your love of reading shows, Trisha. Tell me, who is your all-time favorite character?

Honestly, I enjoy all the characters I meet in books. My favorite character changes with each book I read! 😊

I hear ya! What is your latest read about?

As I write this, I’m currently reading The Blizzard Bride by Susanne Dietz. The story is part of the Daughters of the Mayflower collection from Barbour. Each story stands on its own and can be read in any order, but it is fun to read the stories down through history from the Mayflower! This story takes place during the Blizzard of 1888 in Nebraska. It is quite a page-turning story!

I will definitely have to check it out. Please, tell us about your reading process.

I don’t really have a reading process. I just pick up a book and read it!  I do have little sticky flags to mark favorite quotes or things I want to remember. Or in my digital books, I use the highlight feature.

Where would we be without our highlight feature? I like marking my favorite quotes. Moving on… What is your best marketing tip?

Give signed bookplates to members of your influence team. I’m always more inclined to buy a print copy over a digital copy if I have a signed bookplate to add to my book!
Share your book on various social media platforms. The more people see your book, the more likely they are to buy it.

I like both ideas, especially the signed bookplate idea. Do you choose a word or scripture for each year?

No, I don’t really choose a word or scripture for each year.  I know it’s a rather popular thing to do. For me, I feel that just one word or one verse doesn’t fit the entire year.


I believe it’s important to encourage each other in our daily walk. Would you share a word of encouragement with our readers?

Keep your focus on God. It is so very important to have a daily relationship with God! I have found that when I lose my focus on Him, I start to fall. But as long as I’m keeping my focus on Jesus, even when bad things happen, even when I don’t understand, that He gives me the will to keep going. On my own, I’m not enough. But He is enough! Always!

Thank you, Gail, for inviting me to participate in this interview and visit with your readers today!

I agree, Trisha! Thank you for visiting and sharing. You are a gift to your readers and to authors. Keep up the good work, dear friend.

“Give signed bookplates to members of your influence team. I’m always more inclined to buy a print copy over a digital copy if I have a signed bookplate to add to my book!” ~ @JoyOfReading7 via Women of Faith and Fiction @GailJohnson87 #interviews #reviews

Nicole Santana ~ Women of Faith and Fiction

Good morning! I’m excited to have a book reviewer with me this morning. For years, I’ve enjoyed reading Nicole Santana’s thoughts on the books. Let’s show Nicole some love and appreciation for all she does for readers and authors alike. Good morning, Nicole!


Who is Nicole?

I wear a lot of hats: I am a wife, a mother,  a sister to four brothers and one sister, a daughter, an aunt, a high-school English teacher, an avid reader, and a reviewer.  Reading is one way to center me so all these hats don’t weigh heavily on me. While it can get overwhelming, I do love all that God has put into my life!  I am a very blessed lady.

I teach AP English Literature and Composition, English 9 Honors Medical, and AVID 10 at Palmdale High School in Palmdale, CA. I currently finished my 15th year at PHS. It feels like only yesterday that I was a scared, brand-new teacher.  My how time flies.

Naturally, being an English teacher, I am teaching my 8-year-old a love for books! So far, so good.  She is my blessing and my miracle. She brings such joy to my days. God blessed me when He put Bella into my life!

You are one busy lady, my friend. 🙂 I know this next question has to be a tough one for you, but I’m going to ask because I want to know. Who is your all-time favorite character?


My all-time favorite character is Jane Eyre. When I was a senior in high school, my AP Lit and Comp teacher, Ms. Achiani, recommended that I read Jane Eyre. I devoured that book in days! I’ve since read the book about 10 more times. Jane’s character speaks to my soul. I have always been the odd one out. The black sheep so to speak. I’ve never really fit into any category, and I’ve never felt pretty. On personality tests, I’ve always tested HIGH as an introvert (my last personality test showed a 97% introvert rating), so I’m super uncomfortable around others. But, I feel deeply just as Jane does. And, I can be a little clueless about the feelings of others as Jane is towards Rochester. When I first read Jane Eyre all those years ago, I felt like finally someone got me. If Charlotte Bronte and I had been born the same time period, and we lived near each other, I think we would have been great friends.

Introverts are often misunderstood as aloof. Like you, I feel deeply. I just struggle with how to express that sometimes, so I say nothing at all. Tell me about your latest read.

I just finished reading More Than We Remember by Christina Suzann Nelson. Oh, my word is this an excellent novel. It’s a story that got under my skin, pierced my heart, and left me cheering. It made me talk; I may have bugged my husband every couple of hours with random thoughts and questions: what is forgiveness? What does grace actually look like? What if…? I absolutely adore when a book gets me thinking and makes stop in my reader tracks to have an immediate conversation. I truly loved everything about this book — the superb writing style, the endearing, multi-faceted characters, the conflicts, and the thought-provoking themes. I didn’t know who Christina Suzann Nelson was before reading More Than We Remember, but now I want to read everything she’s written and everything she will write!

READER: You can read Nicole’s review of More Than We Remember here.

The books that get me thinking are books I will read again and again. Moving on . . . What do you like or don’t like in a book?

What do I like in a book? I love it when books get me thinking. My most favorite genre is Historical romance because I love learning new and interesting things, and I love it when stories end happily. I know that life is hard and not all real-life stories end well, but that is why I love fiction. Fiction allows me to escape. When a novel is so well written and so captivating I’m transported to another time and place, that is one of the best experiences ever. I love novels filled with witty banter and timely themes. Books should make a reader wrestle with real-life issues, but they should also make you chuckle a little. The very best novels change the reader a little for the better. 

What do I dislike in a book? I can’t stand when an author doesn’t trust me to be smart enough to read his or her book and therefore explains everything to me. I feel offended. I’m more a show, don’t tell kind of reader. I also HATE when authors try to tell a Biblical story, but make it fit a modern agenda. God’s Word is sacred and we are commanded not to add or subtract from the Word of God in Deuteronomy 4:2. I get poetic license — creating dialogues and the such because we don’t have that information today — but to change the intent and context of the Bible is just wrong! I recently read a novel that tried to tell the story of Barabbas that made Biblical characters homosexual, put characters in places they clearly were not in, and changed up various parables that Jesus told. The author told me he was going for allegory, but he wasn’t. He completely changed up God’s Word to fit his agenda, and that is 100% wrong. Allegory is good, but not at the expense of God’s Word.

I agree with you, Nicole. We must be careful when writing Biblical fiction. Thank you for sharing your heart. Have you always wanted to be a reviewer? Where does your inspiration come from?


I have always wanted to work in the publishing world, but God had other plans for me. I have always loved reading and I’ve always enjoyed writing, but I never really knew how to express this love of mine. I’m not a creative writer. I don’t have any aspirations to be a novelist. In fact, that idea bores me to tears. But I love analysis writing. I love to sift through the creative writing of others and show the world how amazing their talents are. I started my blog,, three years ago because I realized that my talent for writing analytical pieces could be used to uplift and support Christian authors, and to encourage other readers. You see, I truly believe that God uses Christian fiction to plant seeds into people’s souls that get them questioning, searching, and eventually finding a relationship with Him. I believe that Christian fiction is more important now than it’s ever been. People are desperate to believe in something. I want that something to be God. I believe with my whole being that God whispered to my soul to begin my blog so I would use my talents to showcase novels in a way that would get people to pick them up and read. Perhaps there is something in the novel that gets people thinking and questioning and searching. Perhaps that novel gets people to pick up their Bibles. And, in all of this, God works on their hearts. I believe that God puts a call-to-action on Christian authors’ hearts, they write their novels, I read their works and then tell others how amazing their works are. Those who read my reviews then read these Christian novels and God works on them. It’s a beautiful ministry that means so much to me. And through it all, God is working on me, too! This is why I am inspired to write my reviews on my blog. When God calls, we have to answer even if the answer is a simple blog post!

I am so glad you answered that call, my friend! You do an excellent job. Last question . . . I believe it’s important to encourage each other in our daily walk.Would you share a word of encouragement with our readers?

The most encouraging thing to me about God is that He sees us. He is a God of love. He created us all specifically and on purpose, and He put us on this earth for very unique purposes. God did not put us here for trials and tribulations and then runs away from us so that we have to figure things out for ourselves. No! God is a God of relationships. He is constantly there for us. He knows what we are going through. When we cry, He cries. When we laugh, He laughs. This world tells us we are nothing — a mere number. But God, He tells us we are His kids and He puts His Name on us. I think that is amazing! The God who created the known and unknown universes loves us so much He wants a relationship with us. All we have to do is accept that relationship. 

Blessed be God, because He has not rejected my prayer or removed His steadfast love from me! (Psalm 66:20)

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward Him. (2 Chronicles 16:9)

Thank you so much for joining me, Nicole. And thank you for your dedication to your readers and authors! ❤

You see, I truly believe that God uses Christian fiction to plant seeds into people’s souls that get them questioning, searching, and eventually finding a relationship with Him. ~ Nicole Santana @bellesmoma16 @GailJohnson87 #Christianfiction #amreading

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