January Reads Header Image
Giveaway,  Hope-filled Fiction

Deena’s January 2024 Reads

In This Moment book cover

Genre: Historical Time Travel Romance

Format: Audiobook

Stars: Five

My Review: I finished listening to In This Moment by Gabrielle Meyer today (Jan. 10). Oh, my goodness. I think I have a book hangover. What a fantastic story! 

This author is a master storyteller. Her ability to seamlessly weave three storylines together, while making me care about each character in every timeline, is mind-blowing. I loved the historical details. I wanted to finish the book and for it to go on all at the same time. This might be my favorite read of all time! Do yourself a favor and read this book!

Genre: Contemporary

Format: Audiobook

Stars: Three

My Review: I’ve loved many of Charles Martin’s other novels, especially the Murphy Shepherd series, but The Last Exchange was difficult for me to get into. For most of the first three-fourths of the book I was confused. Many times it seemed the POV switched from person to person in the same scene and the narrator was omniscient. I’ve developed a love of deeper POV writing where the reader is in the character’s head, and I didn’t get that from this book. I felt like the narrator was “telling” me a story instead of “experiencing” the story with the characters, leaving me feeling on the outside and not really connecting with the characters.

There was mild language sprinkled in. Nothing over the top, but I’m sharing for awareness. Also, the female lead character has a problem with swearing, (along with other sinful vices) and a few times she would start to say a cuss word and stop herself, but at that point, the full word is already in the reader’s head. There are lots of trigger points people need to be aware of before picking up this book, such as drug abuse, miscarriage, IVF, abduction, infidelity, and more. It’s gritty, raw, and definitely for a more mature audience.

On the positive side, I love the premise of the book: How far are you willing to go for someone you love? Pockets, the male protagonist, went to extreme measures-very unconventional and morally/ethically questionable measures-to rescue the heroine. I have mixed feelings about how that all played out, and each person will have to determine in their own heart whether they agree with the characters’ methods.

From hearing Charles Martin speak at a writer’s conference last year, I truly believe he has a heart for the Lord and his intent behind that question and reason for writing the book was to point people to Jesus and the ultimate sacrifice He made for us all. But if a reader isn’t a Christian, I don’t believe they will get that message. I hope I’m wrong and that God will use this book to open people’s hearts and minds to His amazing love and sacrifice. 

Although this wasn’t my favorite read, I will certainly try another book by this author.

The Last Exchange book cover
Within These Walls of Sorrow book cover

Genre: Historical

Format: Audiobook

Stars: Five

My Review: I can’t imagine the intense research this author did to write such a historically rich novel such as this. Amanda Barratt’s novel brought back all the thoughts and feelings I had years ago while reading The Hiding Place, a memoir by holocaust survivor, Corrie Ten Boom. 

Ms. Barratt’s novel obviously portrayed fictional characters, but they might as well have been real people. Such a deep, painful story to read, but so important. We must always remember and acknowledge the atrocities perpetuated against innocent Jews during that time and take every action necessary not to repeat them in any way, shape, or form.

Bravo to this author for tackling this heartrending account.

Genre: Contemporary

Format: Ebook

Stars: Five

My Review: What a privilege to read and review Amanda Wen’s upcoming release. I loved the author’s first two books in the Sedgewick Chronicles series, and this one was no exception. Ms. Wen tackled a difficult subject but balanced the negative side of what can happen in a church with a heavy dose of God’s grace and truth.

The melding of two different timelines tied together by a violin in need of repair painted a heart-wrenching story of excruciating pain, loss, and grief but shined a spotlight on the power of true forgiveness and how unconditional love can help heal a wounded heart.

I highly recommend all three books in this series!

Thank you to the author and publisher for an advance e-copy of the book. I wasn’t required to provide a review, and all thoughts are my own.

The Rhythm of Fractured Grace book cover
Sugar Birds book cover

Genre: Historical Coming of Age

Format: Audiobook

Stars: Three

My Review: Lovely descriptions by an obviously gifted writer, but I struggled to connect with the characters. Maybe because both POV females were underage. I appreciate the author delving into mental illness, but it seemed to be prevalent in multiple characters, causing a lack of balance in my opinion.

I know for a lot of people course language is a non-issue, but for those like me who are sensitive to it, please note there were multiple uses of the crude word for angry – “pi_ _ ed,” and one use of “dumba_ _.” 

The storyline presented some believability issues for me, and the genre wasn’t my favorite, but I’m sure many readers will enjoy this coming-of-age book.

Genre: Contemporary Christmas

Format: Ebook

Stars: Three

My Review: I enjoyed several of the storylines and writing style more than the others. None of them really grabbed me, but were entertaining enough as short Christmas stories.

Candy Cane Wishes and Saltwater Dreams
If it Rains book cover

Genre: Historical

Format: Audiobook

Stars: Five

My Review: I might not have enjoyed this book nearly as much if I’d read the paperback or kindle version, but the audiobook narrator was fantastic, and her voice really drew me into the story. The writing style was engaging, and I was invested in the characters. 

Set in the Dust Bowl era of history, there were lots of difficult moments throughout, and the author addressed hard topics like spousal abuse, anger, forgiveness, disability, and death, but in spite of all those depressing situations, the characters triumphed in the end.

My one negative about the book was the all-too-visual description of the marriage bed near the beginning. It was a bit graphic for my taste, and especially considering this is Christian Fiction. Aside from that one scene, I loved the book and recommend it to those who enjoy gritty, raw, historical fiction with no romance thread.

Check out @Deenamadams #JanuaryReads and comment on her post by Feb. 13 for a chance to win your choice of the books. (US winner only) #bookreviews


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.


  • Cherie J

    I have read some of the stories in Candy Cane Wishes but wasn’t able to finish. I am leaving the rest for when I don’t feel so burned out on Christmas stories like I do now. I did enjoy the ones I did read. I haven’t read any of the others. I am intrigued by In This Moment’s story plot.

  • J.M. Kirkley

    Hi Deena!
    You grabbed me with your review on Gabrielle Meyer’s book, In This Moment. A favorite read of all time is high praise! I sometimes have difficulty staying engaged and caring about all the characters when there are multiple storylines, unless it’s really well crafted. Good to know the author creates strong characters that the reader cares about. This book has been on my radar for some time, and I will definitely check it out!

    I also appreciated your review on the book by Charles Martin, since I’ve read a number of his books. I will keep your comments in mind.

    • Deena Adams

      Hi, J.M. I’d love to know what you think about In This Moment if you read it. I do suggest reading the fist in the series, When the Day Comes, before you read it, though. Yes, you can still understand the second one just fine on its own, but I think you would enjoy it more if you read the other one first.

      Thanks so much for reading my post and commenting!

  • April Kidwell

    I’m still trying to decide if I want to read *In This Moment*, I enjoyed the first in the series, but not nearly as much as other reviewers. From your reviews, *The Rhythm of Fractured Grace* sounds intriguing, and I’ll probably pick up the Christmas novella because it is in my genre.

    • Deena Adams

      Hi, April. Not every type of book is for every reader … and that’s okay! You tried Gabrielle’s first book and it seems it wasn’t really your style, but I will say I enjoyed the second in the series even more than the first. Maybe you would too.

  • Priscilla Bettis

    Good reviews, Deena! I’ve heard gerat things about Gabrielle Meyer. I haven’t read anything by her yet, but I obviously need to! I recently read Cheryl Grey Bostrom’s sequel to Sugar Birds, a book called Leaning on Air. (It works perfectly fine as a standalone.) I loved it eventhough contemporary romance isn’t at all my go-to for reading. But like you said, some readers will like a book/author when others don’t. We’re all individuals with personal likes and dislikes.

  • Alyssa Schwarz

    These all sound like amazing books! I loved Gabrielle’s first book in the Timeless series and can’t wait to read In This Moment 🙂

  • Jeanette Davis

    You did a lot of reading! And honest reviews! Thank you. If chosen would love a paperback copy of Within These Walls of Sorrow

  • Elizabeth Litton

    I haven’t read any of these yet, but The Last Exchange and Within These Walls of Sorrow are on my TBR list. In January, I read at least 6 or 8 books. (I don’t remember for sure!) 🙂

  • Dana

    I read When the Day Comes, the first book in the Timeless series and it was amazing! I can’t wait to read In This Moment.

    I read ten books in January.

    • Deena Adams

      Hi, Dana. I thought In This Moment was even better than Gabrielle’s first book! I hope you get to read it soon. I’m looking forward to book three soon! Thanks for reading and commenting. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.