About the Book
But danger lurks where one never expects it.
Can her passion for cooking help Gina survive and thrive in this world of privilege, pleasure and menace?
Sugar and Spice and All Those Lies is the first book I’ve read by Evy Journey, and I’m not sure if I will read another one.
Ms. Journey has written a book that begins with a bang in a prologue where the main character is on a hospital gurney in danger, but the rest of the book doesn’t live up to the excitement of that first scene.
Gina is the main character, and the story is entirely told through first person point of view. This book is written in the present tense, which is difficult for a novel, and Ms. Journey doesn’t always manage the POV well. Gina is an interesting character. She grew up poor, and worked hard for where she is now, as a chef at a fancy restaurant.
She meets Leon at the restaurant. Leon is a rich businessman, though what type of business is never mentioned. His family is wealthy and he’s expected to take over the entire business once his father decides to retire. He’s also creepy. He sends flowers to Gina at her home (she hadn’t given him the address) and almost immediately declares himself in love with her.
The third part of the love triangle is Brent, a police detective. In comparison to Leon, he is completely normal. He’s nice and works hard. However, he, like Leon, also falls quickly in love with Gina. It felt a little unrealistic!
Ms. Journey has filled this book with a ton of dialogue and introspection, and very little scene setting. This book could really take place anywhere! This book also includes non-explicit sex scenes, so if you do not enjoy that in a story, I would avoid this one!
Themes that are hinted at are classism, snobbery, family expectations/loyalty, but this story could’ve delved deeper into all those themes.
These characters read more like teenagers/college students than grown adults. I probably would’ve liked this book more if it was Young Adult/New Adult fiction. There is also a mystery plot involving Gina that happens quite late and appears out of nowhere, and I was blindsided by it.
I give Sugar and Spice and All Those Lies 3/5 stars. The themes that Ms. Journey touches on, especially classism, family duty, and love, have the potential to form into an interesting story but it is not executed well.
**I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author through Loving the Book. All opinions are my own.**
I’m alive. I’m dead. I’m in-between. In that limbo where my vital signs hover just above death. I rise above my body and look down on it, lying on a gurney. Hospital staff are rushing me along the brightly-lit hallway to the operating room. One of them holds an oxygen mask on my face. Another, a bag of intravenous fluid connected to my veins by a tube.
I’m not ready to die yet. These good people anxious to rescue me don’t know that my resolve is the only thing that is keeping me alive. No, I’m not ready to die—I’ve only just begun to live. I have yet to prove to myself, to the world, that I have what it takes to prevail.
My family—now on their way to the hospital—doesn’t know yet exactly what happened to me. And except for one detective, neither do the police. I see him now by the foot of the gurney, keeping pace with the nurses. He’s scowling, his lips pressed into a grim line.
A tall, taut, and solitary man, he has deep-set gray eyes clouded by too many images of violent death and a lower lip that hangs perpetually open in disgust or despair. So much darkness he has already seen in his thirty odd years in this world. He needs to piece together the facts that constitute the attempt on my life, events that may have led to it, and various fragments of my past to understand what brought me to this point.
The first time I met him, I fell in love with him. There was something primal about him, some paternal, animalistic instinct to save hurt or fallen victims. Like me, maybe. It gave him power and it made him irresistible to me.
But fate is fickle. It teases. It entices. One day, something quite ordinary happens to you. Yet, you sense that that ordinary something can change your life. Not necessarily for something better, but for something new. Fate is dangling before you the promise of a world that, before then, was totally out of your reach. How can you not seize it?
Now, of course, I see the end of that promise. And it’s not where I want to be.
It’s tragic, don’t you think, that the end of that promise should be right here on a gurney, with me fighting for my life? It certainly is not what I hoped for.
How could it end this way? I embraced life, took chances, but half-dead on this gurney, I wonder: Am I paying with my life? But, like I said. I’m not ready to die yet
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About the Book
As these women join forces to search for Joey’s father–a Rockland area pastor, no less– Emily learns compassion for a woman who just wants the best for her son and can’t quite imagine that Jesus wants anything to do with her.
Each day, Davia weakens until Emily isn’t confident she’ll find the boy’s father in time–if at all. Doubts form. Should she look? Is it right to risk destroying a family like this–an entire church? The weight of that responsibility crushes her as Davia wastes away before her eyes.
A mother’s love. A boy’s confidence. A family’s faith. A preacher’s failure. Is redemption even possible anymore?
Christmas Embers: a story of love, failure, and redemption.
Christmas Embers by Chautona Havig is a difficult book to get through and for me, a difficult book to rate. I settled on the higher rating because of the writing and the handling of the tough subject matter despite slight dissatisfaction with the end of the book.
This is the first book I’ve read by Ms. Havig. She is an excellent writer, and both main characters are well-rounded, flawed individuals. Christmas Embers is also what I like to call an “internal” book—one that consists of character’s thoughts and interactions, so there are no long descriptions of the setting.
Emily and Sean, a married couple, are our main characters. Infidelity and adultery is rarely addressed in Christian fiction, and Ms. Having handles it well. She doesn’t shy away from the impact it has on the adulterer, the spouse, family members, the church, and friends. The themes of sin, love, hate, temptation, and forgiveness permeate the book and make it rich and rewarding.
One of the aspects of the story that didn’t work for me was the flashback to the actual adultery—it’s not explicit. However, by that time in the story I knew the information the flashback conveyed and felt it interrupted the flow of the story.
I couldn’t put Christmas Embers down. One reason is I was never a hundred percent certain which way the relationship between the adulterer and the cheated-on spouse would go. Ms. Havig writes this broken relationship so well I didn’t know if they would stay together or divorce. And I think I would have been able to accept either decision because of the way Ms. Havig presented the relationship.
However, I would have appreciated a few chapters detailing what happened between Emily and Sean after the decision (I won’t spoil) instead of skipping to the epilogue.
I give Christmas Embers 4/5 stars and recommend it for those looking for a read that will make you think about sin and forgiveness. I thought it dealt with a tough topic well and appropriately, and despite the excellent writing and the deftly handled subject matter, the lack of story after the decision about their relationship struck me as odd.
**I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author through CelebrateLit. All opinions are my own.**
About the Author
Guest Post from Chautona Havig
Infidelity to the Tune of Adeste Fideles
“I think my husband is having an affair.”
An explanation followed. Look, I tend to be one who assumes the best of others—to a fault even. I read the “evidence” and frankly could see it going either way. It’s hard to tell across thousands of miles. While others on the message board saw red flag after red flag—and frankly, I did, too—I also saw perfectly innocent explanations for things. It’s a curse sometimes—that ability to see both sides of an issue. I cautioned against assumptions no one would want other people to make of themselves. And I prayed she was wrong.
It wasn’t the first time I’d come face to face with infidelity. As a child, there was an extended family member. As a newlywed, one of my wedding party—then another. Then another. The excuses, the justifications. Friends and I went to confront a sister in Christ on her affair with her husband’s best friend. We foolishly asked “what happened?” regarding her marriage. Her words: “We drifted apart.”
I wanted to scream the words that battered my brain and heart. “Then row back together!”
But over the years, it just grew worse. One by one, wives and husbands tossed aside vows made to a brother or sister in Christ—vows made before the Lord—in favor of what sometimes were serial affairs. Abuse. Horror.
I’ve prayed women I love through court cases, medical visits, and disclosures from children no mother should ever have to hear. I’ve prayed for men I didn’t even like because of the pain their wives inflicted each time she left them alone with the kids. He knew. He always knew.
Adultery is real. It’s ugly. And there’s absolutely a cure for it. Jesus. 100% surrender to Jesus. But as long as we rely on those little loops on the back of our boots instead of the saving, healing, strengthening power of Jesus, we’re just as vulnerable as the next person.
And that’s why I wrote Christmas Embers. I took every heartbreaking story I’d observed over the years and put in each character for a reason. Every scene, every plot point, every twist—I put them exactly how and where they are for a reason.
They’re there as a warning.
This isn’t your lighthearted Christmas novel. Some have suggested I shouldn’t have set it at Christmastime. But you know what? Over half the disclosures I’ve ever heard of happened between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. I couldn’t get the idea of Joey’s story out of my head. And to write his story, it had to be at Christmas.
Let me say it again. While Christmas may not seem like the optimal time for a hard-hitting book like this, I had to do it. Adultery is reaching epidemic proportions in the church. There’s a solution. His name is Jesus.
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Daysong Reflections, December 6
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Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, December 10
Aryn the Libraryan, December 11
A Reader’s Brain, December 11
The Fizzy Pop Collection, December 12
Books, Books, and More Books., December 12
Quiet Quilter, December 13
Seasons of Opportunities, December 13
Christian Book Devourer, December 13
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Texas Book-aholic, December 14
Pursuing Stacie, December 14
Pause for Tales, December 15
Reader’s cozy corner, December 15
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Red Headed Book Lady, December 16
Purposeful Learning, December 16
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 16
Janices book reviews, December 17
Christian Bookaholic, December 17
Karen Sue Hadley, December 18
Remembrancy, December 18
Blossoms and Blessings, December 18
To celebrate her tour, Chautona is giving away a grand prize of a 6 month Kindle Unlimited Subscription!!
Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/c512
Writer/Editor. Voracious Book Reader. World Traveler. Veteran. Bakery Owner.