My Hope Next Door – Tammy L. Gray

29806080My Hope Next Door by Tammy L. Gray
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Publisher: Waterfall Press
Published Date: September 13th 2016

Buy Link:

Blurb:  Former bad girl Katie Stone can feel the weight of her reputation settle over her as she drives home for the first time in years. Feeling deeply guilty about her past mistakes, Katie wants to do the right thing for once. But the small town where she grew up is not nearly as forgiving as she’d hoped. Despite it all, she’s determined to help her parents cope with her mother’s recent illness, and Katie finds a surprise ally in the man next door.

Asher Powell never minded being the son of a small-town pastor until a recent breakup leaves him wounded by lifelong members of his church. He remembers his new neighbor as a mean-spirited high school troublemaker, but he senses that her newfound faith and desire for forgiveness are sincere.

Through an unexpected friendship, two people from different worlds find peace, hope, and a second chance they never dreamed was possible.

Tammy L Gray has become a pretty consistent 1-Click Author for me, mostly because her stories are filled both with real-life and hope.

What I Loved: So many words out of this novel are nearly the same things that come out of my Pastor’s mouth on a regular basis, a message of being real and genuine as a Christian, and through our daily walk with those who aren’t. She mentions so many hot buttons, such as how Christians are hypocrites (true), gossips (true), sinners (well duh), but she also brings light to the fact that despite these things, there are Christ-followers who are real and genuine. People who struggle on a daily basis to just get it right. How if we are truly “Christ-Followers” we would do as He did, sit at tables with sinners, show them love and compassion and not judgment and rejection. It was also touched upon how Christians have their own “language” using words that are unfamiliar to those who did not grow up in Church. Using these words don’t make us holy, and if they make people uncomfortable or becomes a stumbling block, we need to be aware of it, and just be real. I very much love these mini-messages of being relevant and real.

This story was a sort of an opposites attract type story, but both Asher and Katie had issues. I loved the struggles portrayed from both the lifer-church-attendee, and from someone completely…opposite. It was nice to see the story bring together both stories and the love and truth and healing that came through in different ways.

Of course, I love to see real romance, love and passion coming out in a Christian novel that feel much the same as my own relationship with my husband. I love that Tammy L. Gray does not shy away from passion, but embraces it.

Not So Much: While both Asher and Katie both have their own healing, I felt like this was more Katie’s story. I’m pretty sure this was the intention actually, but I was also interested in seeing more of Asher’s process as well. There was a reconciliation and forgiveness, but I felt like at the beginning of the book he was dealing with many internal struggles that seemed to clear up with a simple lecture from his Dad. I would have loved to have seen it flushed out just a bit more.

At times I did feel like the book was a little long. At some point I kind of felt that Katie’s devastation was abundantly clear and was ready to proceed forward with the story. All these things did happen, it just took a bit longer than I felt was necessary.

The Verdict: I know that there are many of my readers who won’t consider this book because I’ve openly reveal how it’s Christian in nature. That is fine. I do think that this was a very beautiful piece of written art and is perfect for any Christ-Follower who prefer books based on Christians rather than not. I also think anyone who likes clean-reads would love this book as well, regardless of their beliefs. I highly recommend this author because she writes great books of struggle and reconciliation, and of hope.

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Book Review: Sway, Amy Matayo

Title: Sway
Author: Amy Matayo
Synopsis from Goodreads:   

Finally settled after a tragedy-laden life, 24-year-old Caleb has found security in his faith, his friends, and his career. It’s the life he’s always wanted–simple, predictable, and safe. Enter Kate Hawkins, the attractive 21-year-old stranger he rescues from a bar fight who has an odd affinity for the color pink and a unique sense of humor. 

It doesn’t take long to realize their connection is intense, but after only a handful of dates, a shocking revelation surfaces. Lines are drawn, sides are taken, and loyalties are decided as their newfound relationship is brought to a sudden halt.

But unlike most couples who split, avoiding each other is impossible. As daily interactions become unbearable, one realization becomes clear: they’ve both fallen hard for the absolute wrong person, which leaves both scrambling for a way to make it right.

My Review:
I have to admit, when I think of Christian Fiction books, my first thought is ‘it’s probably cheesy at best, preachy at worst.’  There are some great, GREAT Christian books out there, there are great fiction books about stories of the bible out there as well, not written specifically to be Christian.  Even though that is true, the vast majority of Christians Fiction books are not very good, and are just not a story that you can relate to; and that is a sad thing.  I think there are a million and one historical Christian novels, and I’ve read one or two and have found them enjoyable, but they are just kind of bland, and I don’t want to read a million and one renditions of the same story. I AM a Christian, and I AM a reader – I love to read books, but I do not seek out Christian Fiction.  However, that may be changing, because in the last year I’ve found at least two authors who know how to write a faith-based novel that speaks to my heart, and whose characters are real and believable, and whose setting is…well, current both in timeline and in life in general.

I love Sway, that is the plain and simple truth.  I’m not sure if this was her heart, but Amy Matayo has written a book that is not necessairly meant to entice you to Christ (though, it might happen) but a book that was written for a Christian to speak to a Christ-like heart.  I found myself reflected both in Kate and Caleb at different times; their struggles were real, the passion was real, and the romance (YES, we Christians like the heat too) was so real.  Throw in some great supporting characters, one secretary stands out specifically, and you’ve got this awesome heart-filled and compelling novel.  My own faith and attitude towards some of the people in my life was challenged while reading this book.  So, thank you Amy, for taking my pre-concieved notions of what a Christian Romance probably looks like and throwing it out the door.  Thank you for writing a novel that entertained me, and also  challenged me.  Please, keep it up!

Rated:  PG – very clean
Genre: New Adult – Christian Fiction; Romance
Rating:  5 Stars

~* Books by Amy Matayo *~
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