Monday, October 23, 2017

THE SECRET LIFE OF SARAH HOLLENBECK BY BETHANY TURNER


Genre: Contemporary Romantic Comedy
Publisher: Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group
Date of Publication: October 3, 2017
Page: 304

Synopsis | Praise | My Review | Buy Now | About the Author | Giveaway | More Blogs

Synopsis:

Becoming a Christian is the best and worst thing that has ever happened to Sarah Hollenbeck. Best because, well, that’s obvious. Worst because, up to this point, she’s made her very comfortable living as a well-known, bestselling author of steamy romance novels that would leave the members of her new church blushing. Now Sarah is trying to reconcile her past with the future she’s chosen. She’s still under contract with her publisher and on the hook with her enormous fan base for the kind of book she’s not sure she can write anymore. She’s beginning to think that the church might frown on her tithing on royalties from a "scandalous" book. And the fact that she’s falling in love with her pastor doesn’t make things any easier.

With a powerful voice, penetrating insight, and plenty of wit, Bethany Turner explodes onto the scene with a debut that isn’t afraid to deal with the thorny realities of living the Christian life.


Praise: 
“The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck is a rare treat packed with humor, hope, and heart. Sarah’s struggles are real and nearly tangible, and she feels like a friend we’ve all had. I laughed with her and fell in love alongside her and couldn’t wait to hear her whole story. What a charming, delightful book!”  ~Liz Johnson, bestselling author of The Red Door Inn

My Review:

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
I've always had a love for reading, but as I get older I find myself reading more books and consuming television and movies a lot less. Having said that, I do enjoy a good book that flows like it's made for live entertainment. In reading Bethany Turner's debut novel, The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck, the story read very much like a picture perfect movie that might appear on the Hallmark Channel.

In this romantic, Christian comedy, we meet the titular character who is grieving her recent divorce. In an effort to re-discover who she is, Sarah joins a book club. One thing leads to another and she ends up a wealthy author of some very steamy romance novels (think 50 Shades of Grey steamy). In the midst of her success and with the help of her BFF, Piper, Sarah becomes a born-again Christian and decides to once again re-invent herself. If that wasn't enough, she finds herself in love (at first sight) with the pastor of her new church. Chaos ensues, but everything is tied up nicely in the end.

While this brief synopsis might make the book sound rather superficial, make no mistake, Bethany Turner does an excellent job of presenting realistic and complex situations any of us could find ourselves in. The author's gift as a writer is that she takes those situations and offers a fresh perspective with a bit of hope and a dash of humor. It's often said that comedy helps us digest difficult circumstances with a bit of sugar. Turner certainly has mastered this craft. Additionally, she offers wonderful insight into common issues that all couples face, but specifically she creatively demonstrates how Christians can approach these issues while remaining true to the faith.

I also enjoyed the construction of this book. Many of the books I've read as of late simply number the chapters in chronological order. I liked that Turner included descriptive headings for each of her chapters. It makes the reader anticipate what's to come in the secret-turned-very public life of Sarah Hollenbeck. What's more is all of the characters seem so genuine. They're relatable and broken, but not beyond repair and redemption. And most importantly, not beyond the grasp of God's grace and mercy. This is what gives the book an overarching theme of hope. (As an aside, I really want Piper to be my best friend!)

My only criticism of this novel, albeit a personal one, is that I found some things in the book a bit unrealistic. For example, I don't believe in "love at first sight." You can disagree though. Let me know what you think in the comments. Also, I would have liked the book to include a little more breadth in terms of ethnic diversity.

Recommendation: I found this story to be a delight, containing nuggets of truth that convicted but also inspired me. It is a story about overcoming grief, releasing guilt, forging friendships, and reading and writing books. What's not to love? I think it would make for a great book club discussion as well as an individual read. Pick up a copy and see for yourself. Or check out the giveaway further down this page and enter for a chance to win your own copy plus some other sweet prizes!

Until next time ... Read on!

About the Author:

Bethany Turner is the director of administration for Rock Springs Church in Southwest Colorado. A former VP/operations manager of a commercial bank and a three-time cancer survivor (all before she turned 35), Bethany knows that when God has plans for your life, it doesn’t matter what anyone else has to say. Because of that, she’s chosen to follow his call to write. She lives with her husband and their two sons in Colorado, where she writes for a new generation of readers who crave fiction that tackles the thorny issues of life with humor and insight.
Connect with Bethany | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads


Giveaway:

Grand Prize: Copy of The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck + a typewriter tote bag + a typewriter notebook + Columbia Jo's coffee + Novel Teas teabags
2nd Prize: Copy of The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck + a typewriter hardcover journal + typewriter enamel lapel pin
3rd Prize: Copy of The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck + $10 Barnes & Noble Gift Card
October 19-October 28, 2017
(U.S. Only)

More Blogs on this Tour:

19-Oct Author Interview Forgotten Winds
20-Oct Guest Post #1 Margie's Must Reads
21-Oct Review Texan Girl Reads
22-Oct Deleted Scene Reading by Moonlight
24-Oct Guest Post #2 Texas Book Lover
25-Oct Review Tangled in Text
26-Oct Playlist Books in the Garden
27-Oct Review StoreyBook Reviews
28-Oct Character Interview Books and Broomsticks






Location: Fort Worth, TX, USA

2 comments :

  1. Thank you for this chance to win. Sounds like an interesting read.
    CherylB1987 AT hotmail DOT com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Best of luck to you, Cheryl!

      Delete

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