Deena's 2024 April Reads header image
Giveaway,  Hope-filled Fiction

Deena’s April Reads & a Giveaway

The Juliet Code book cover

Genre: Mystery/Historical

Format: Audiobook

Stars: Five

Another wonderful Freddie and Grace mystery! I just love these two characters and how much they adore one another. I listened to this on audio and really enjoyed the narrator. Highly recommend!

Genre: Mystery/Humor

Format: Kindle

Stars: Five

What a great read! I loved everything about this book, from the mystery, humor, and spiritual thread to the bits of romance and wonderful, flawed characters.

And how cool that the author lives in my city and includes local businesses I’m familiar with. I’ve also had the privilege to meet the author.

I’ll definitely read the next book in this series!

Hazardous Duty book cover
Come Down Somewhere book cover

Genre: Historical/Split-time

Format: Audiobook

Stars: Five

This is my second read by this author, and she’s quickly becoming a favorite. I really enjoy her writing style and the depth in her stories.

This novel is not a light, fluffy, feel-good read, but digs into hard topics and is full of grit. It’s a coming of age story, which is not usually my favorite type of stories, but this one really held my attention.

Genre: Contemporary Legal Thriller

Format: Audiobook

Stars: Three

I’ve enjoyed many Robert Whitlow books over the years, but this was probably my least favorite. The story just didn’t grab me. I really love books written in deep POV, and this one seemed to tell more than show the characters’ actions and emotions.

Also, I listened on audio and didn’t enjoy the narrator, so that probably played into my disappointment as well.

The story wasn’t horrible by any means, and I’m sure lots of people would like it. It just wasn’t for me.

Chosen People book cover
The Heart of the Mountains book cover

Genre: Historical Romance

Format: Audiobook

Stars: Five

This story is filled with everything a reader could want in a Christian Historical Romance. High action, endearing characters, meaningful and humorous dialogue, immersive mountain culture and dialect, inspiration, redemption, and so much more. 

Pepper Basham is a master storyteller and I loved this book as much as her others I’ve read. 

I highly recommend this author and this book. And the narrator did a fabulous job.

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Format: Audiobook

Stars: Five

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this Walker Family story. The author created endearing characters, a believable romance, a beautiful storyline, and a solid spiritual arc. Icing on the cake … the narrator did an excellent job. Looking forward to the next book in the series!

Keep Holding On book cover
A Life Once Dreamed book cover

Genre: Historical Romance

Format: Audiobook

Stars: Four

A sweet historical romance with a predictable ending, but the journey to get there was an enjoyable one. The author’s heart for children who need love and acceptance shone through this story.

We could all take a lesson from the main characters in this book when it comes to doing what’s good and right even when those we love disagree and may even disown us.

Genre: Contemporary Southern Fiction (Launches on June 11)

Format: Kindle (Advance Reader Copy)

Stars: Four

If you enjoy dual timeline fiction that revolves around family drama and strained relationships but highlights healing from emotional pain, you’ll like this one. The author does a great job leading the reader through each characters’ struggles and bringing a satisfying conclusion.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Bitter and Sweet book cover
The Heart of a Hero book cover

Genre: Contemporary Adventure

Format: Audiobook

Stars: Five

This novel was filled with non-stop action, one disaster after another. Despite many unlikely scenarios, I enjoyed listening to this second in the series. As with the first book, this one leaves the reader hanging, so I had to borrow book three to see what happens next! The narrator did such a great job with all the characters and their distinct voices.

If you’re a fan of inspirational, high impact military stories, you’ll like this one.

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Format: Kindle

Stars: Two

I set this book aside to start reading the ARC mentioned above (Bitter and Sweet), and honestly, I’m not sure if I’ll finish it. I’m about halfway through, and every page has been a struggle to read.

I’ve enjoyed many, many books by this author in the past and started this one after watching The Baxter TV series on Amazon Prime earlier this month.

Before I get into the many reasons this book wasn’t for me let me say, I highly respect Karen Kingsbury and her career as an author. Her successful track record in the Christian publishing world speaks for itself! I do appreciate that this book is all about standing up for your beliefs and rights as a Christian. I’m all in on that!

Now, on to what I didn’t like.

As a writer, I’ve learned many “rules” authors should follow for publication, and this book had me cringing at every turn. What I’ve read contains so much “telling” and “backstory” rather than immersing the reader into the characters’ world, and there’s very little dialogue.

The characters’ thoughts are repetitive, and the premise comes across as extreme and unbelievable, although I don’t doubt there are instances in our country where the type of scenario portrayed in this book has happened.

Another rub for me is the cover, which leads readers to believe this is a romance between a Caucasian man and woman, but the main characters in the book are Black. And the central theme of the story is not even romance, at least from what I’ve read so far. Yes, Luke Baxter, a white male highlighted in previous Baxter Series books, is a character in this book, but he’s a side character and has no romantic arc.

I don’t like giving such negative feedback, but I also want to provide you with honest reviews. I’m only sharing my thoughts on this book with you, my subscribers. If I can’t give a book at least three stars, I don’t usually leave public reviews.

There are tons of positive reviews on this book, so take my comments as purely my personal opinion. You might love it!

In This Moment book cover

Check out my April #ChristianFiction reads and comment on the post by April 30 for a chance to win your choice of the books listed! (US winner only)



As a Jesus girl for more than thirty years, Deena Adams understands how important hope is to daily life, which fuels her passion to inspire others through hope-filled fiction based on true to life stories. She is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency and is a multi-award-winning writer, an active ACFW member, and ACFW Virginia president. Connect with Deena through her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


  • Vickie

    I’ve always wanted to read books by Pepper Basham, Jennifer Wright and Rachel Fordham but have not yet been able to. It was exciting that see these listed and reviewed.

    Also, I’ve only listened to two audiobooks so that would basically be a new experience.

    • Deena Adams

      I hope you get a chance to read the authors you mentioned soon, Vickie. They’re wonderful! I couldn’t listen to audiobooks until about three years ago. My mind wandered way too much. Sometimes that still happens and I miss bits and pieces and either go back and listen again or fill in the gaps myself. LOL

  • Sylvia Rodriguez

    So many great books! I’ve read several of these & have some of them on my tbr list. Will be adding some more, thank you for sharing so many great books!

  • Perrianne Askew

    I have read and enjoyed both of Pepper Basham’s novels, my favorite of which is The heart of the Mountains. I’ve read Jennifer L. Wright’s and everything Rachel Fordham has written. My interest has waned for Karen Kingsbury’s novels lately so I haven’t read that one.

    I would choose Keep Holding On by Melissa tagg, as I haven’t read very many of hers.

    • Deena Adams

      Hi, Perrianne. I’ve read a couple of Melissa Tagg’s and really enjoyed them. I’ve learned of so many new-to-me Christian authors though the Avid Readers of Christian Fiction Facebook group.

  • Patty Rude

    I haven’t read any of these books, but I did read the first Freddie & Grace book, and look forward to reading the other two in the series!

    I would love a copy of Bitter and Sweet.

  • Jeanette Davis

    Hi Deena

    Thank you for the reviews! I have not read any of the books, so it is good to have reviews I can trust!

    If chosen, I would love Hazardous Duty…sometimes a light read is good (although there are others going on my Goodreads, want to read list. Also am following you on Goodreads!

    Again thanks for this chance.

    • Deena Adams

      You’re very welcome, Jeanette. The first scene in Hazardous Duty is pretty bloody (the main character is a crime scene cleaner), so be aware of that. Thanks for reading and joining the conversation!

  • Teri DiVincenzo

    I’ve read a good handful of these, including Pepper Basham, Rachel Fordham, and Jennifer L Wright…all which I have loved dearly! I absolutely appreciate your honest opinion on the books you have read, even if your feedback is not always gushing. My pick would probably be Bitter and Sweet because I’ve heard such good things about that one!

  • Kera Bell

    Surprisingly, I haven’t read any of these authors, but I think hazardous duty is the most suspenseful one and I would like to read that.

      • Diane

        Thank you for your reviews! I haven’t read any of these books, but I have read two books by Pepper Basham, and some by Christy Barritt that were wonderfully entertaining. I only wished that they had a more spiritual theme, so your review of The Heart of the Mountains and Hazardous Duty give me hope that I might find what I am looking for in those titles.

    • Maryann S

      So many wonderful books and authors Deena! I haven’t read any of these but I have read books by Rachel, Pepper and Melissa before. I review every book I read on Goodreads.

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