Book Review | “A Sinner in Paradise” (a duology) by Deborah Hining Women’s Fiction with an uplifting centre focus of a character in search of herself.

Posted Saturday, 2 July, 2016 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

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Acquired Book By: Whilst participating in #LitChat last Summer [2015] about Indie Publishers and the stories they publish, I happily discovered Light Messages Publishing! If your curious about the Small Press Showcase #LitChat I attended you can replay the conversation in whole by visiting the Nurph Channel for LitChat where it’s archived. Since my first introduction to their publishing house, I’ve had the pleasure of becoming a reviewer for them! I have felt blessed to read stories of such uplifting candor on everyday life, pursuing faith in ordinary hours and finding a spirit of humanity interwoven into the stories themselves!

This marks my third review for Light Messages Publishing as I received a complimentary copy of “A Sinner in Paradise” direct from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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On how I picked what to read next after

The Particular Appeal of Gillian Pugsley (review) and Tea & Crumples (review):

Currently Reading A Sinner in Paradise banner created by Jorie in Canva. Book Photography Credit: Jorie of

One of the blessings of Light Messages, is the fact they publish a multi-genre collective of stories – crafted by writers who are etching into the background of their stories an uplifting turn of inspiration & cross-section of faith. If your a reader who likes to seek out stories that have true-blue characters who are living lives whilst arriving at cross-sections of their personal journey, your going to find a blessed home in the offerings of Light Messages; as this has been my perception and happenstance observation on behalf of their authors’ selections!

I wasn’t truly thinking of any particular genre or style of story – moreso, I was thinking of staying within the framework of a theme parlaying towards another ‘character’ (female or male) who was either overcoming something or transitioning through something; a story with a bit of a bite to it, but also, plenty of introspection as I have the tendency to appreciate those sorts the best! When I wandered over to the publisher’s site, I picked up on the offerings of Ms Hining as being the ones that might appeal to my readerly heart at this present time. I had no idea I’d be blessed with a duology – knitted so close together – as those are the joys of reading in our modern age, the finding of two stories anchoured together, either through a character, a setting or place or even a timescape! Duologies are a heap of fun to read, as they are each individually one half of the whole story.

Coming through the emotional tidal-waves of my first two choices, I wasn’t sure if these stories by Hining would be a bit light-hearted with dashes of cheeky humour or seriously on the same level of tone as the prior two I have loved to read. I can sway either way – on the emotional depth of stories – I admit, I like to break-up the heavier novels with lighter subject matters as it gives my heart a refreshing bit of joy before easing back into another one. Contemporary Fiction & Rom are selections I am trying to focus on a bit more, as I have the tenacious knack for rooting out a Historical at the drop of a hat! Laughs. I used to read a better balance of Contemporaries & Historicals; but in recent years, I’ve lopsided myself worse than a lop-eared rabbit!

I’ve even spied a few thematics at Light Messages that made me curious about how they might read with the threading of INSPY – as they have Suspense and Science Fiction choices hidden amongst the Women’s Fiction & happily a lovely Historical that fetched my eye as well by Lindsey Barlow! I am happily enjoying the journey I am taking with this publisher, as I am finding the stories are wicked sweet finds for a reader who loves convicting fiction fused with fiercely strong characters!

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Book Review | “A Sinner in Paradise” (a duology) by Deborah Hining Women’s Fiction with an uplifting centre focus of a character in search of herself.A Sinner in Paradise
by Deborah Hining
Source: Direct from Publisher

Set in 1977 West Virginia, this is a heartwarming, uproarious affair with love in all its forms.

Jilted by her fiancee, Geneva watches her seemingly idyllic life suddenly fall apart. Bereft and desolate, she packs up her nine cats and leaves her home in Washington, DC to return to her native hills of West Virginia where she plans rest and heal from her heartbreak.

When Geneva's ambition, and machinations run up against rugged mountain ways, she finds herself flung from one perilous adventure, romance, crazy circumstance, and heartbreak to another.

After facing illness, disaster in the wilderness and an encounter with an old mountain man who teaches her that her soul needs more than men, courtship, and adventure, Geneva finally finds what she's been missing. Ultimately, Geneva realizes she must face herself before she is free to truly love and be loved.

Genres: Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, INSPY Realistic Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Women's Fiction

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1-­61153-­057-­5

Published by Light Messages Publishing

on August 2013

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 423

Published By: Light Messages Publishing (@LMpublishing)

Author Page @ Light Messages Publishing
Available Formats: Paperback, Ebook

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A duology by Deborah Hining

A Sinner in Paradise by Deborah HiningA Saint in Graceland by Deborah Hening

A Sinner in Paradise | Book 1

A Saint in Graceland | Book 2 | Book Synopsis

The long-awaited sequel to Deborah Hining’s award-winning debut
novel, A Sinner in Paradise.  is novel stands strong on its own while
offering a deep satisfaction to her existing readers.

Converse via: #ASinnerInParadise & #duology

About Deborah Hining

Deborah Hining

Deborah Hining believes that life is pretty much perfect as long as it holds a sense of destiny. Her destiny has led her to be many things: wife, mother, and grandmother, and also actress, award-winning playwright, theatrical director, college instructor, and Certified Financial Planner (or as she calls it, “Financial Fairy Godmother”).

Now she is a farmer and best-selling author. Her debut novel A Sinner in Paradise won the Foreword Reviews INDIEFAB Bronze Medal for Romance and a Benjamin Franklin
Awards Silver Medal. Deborah and her husband Mike live at Corinne’s Orchard, a farm in Durham County, North Carolina.

You can ¬find her most days working in one of the gardens, writing, and generally giving thanks for her abundant life.

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Geneva : her conflicts & her self-discovery:

Geneva was a woman who had a strong contradictive personality, where she felt herself equally drawn to both city and country lifestyles; having grown up in the mountains and chosen a career in Washington (DC). The constant reminders of how those she knew in the city were more interested in her appearance or the materials she had gained set her mind to reconsider what she might have lost by leaving the mountains; yet when she returnt to her hometown environs, she questioned how she could live without art and culture. Yet, nothing is as cut and dry as she projected it to being, and part-way through the story, you start to see how Geneva is truly going through a period of self-growth and self-discovery – where her internal conflicts merge into her desires; which will win out is half the fun of reading her story!

My Review of A Sinner in Paradise:

We are not privy to meeting Geneva on her best of days, as the colossal disturbance her fleeing fiance has left on her soul isn’t one that is easily mended! Nor is the diverting circumstances of having kittens arriving out of the blue to numb your emotionally fragile state when one such kitten doesn’t make it past sunrise. Mind you, whilst she’s vexing over her plight, she is happily casting out scurrilous bits about him wondering if she’s captured him well enough at all. Her mind feathers round the impossibly hard-to-resolve realisation that despite having established herself in the city, her entire circle of acquaintances (as I believe she’s downgraded them from ‘friends’ after those phone calls!) care far more on the status of her flat than on the status of her well-being! This last bit of insight would give anyone pause for thought on their life and how where they are currently might not be in the ‘best place’ for them to thrive; as how can people care more about your real estate than ‘you’?

Her exodus from the city where she felt her dreams could be spun out of a desire to seek the unknown had lost it’s luster of light; by leaving she was freeing herself of what never was for a place her soul had yearned to return. Moving back home, under the warmth and love of her family in the mountains of West Virginia isn’t only a refuge for Geneva but a place she never honestly should have left. Nothing felt ‘right’ as soon as she had taken her leave of the region; the outside world far away from the mountains was spinning at a greater speed than where she had been raised. The speed of which was bent on the superficial, the constantly convenient and even faux necessities for those who wanted to move ahead but without connections to tie them to anyone in particular. In essence, Geneva had conformed to the society she felt she longed to live amongst only to realise how artificial her life had become amongst those who never stopped to languish on the question of ‘is there more to life than this?’.

Rachel welcomed her sister Geneva back with open arms – she was carrying twins, thankful for the extra help round the farm but mostly, she was overjoyed her sister was returning home. Rachel and Geneva understood each other with that coy way all sisters do, including knowing when to sip some wine during a fireside chat to purge a bad memory of a bloke no longer in view! They make you smile seeing how well they relate to each other and how each of them knows how to lift the spirits of the other, too! The life Geneva was carving out on her sister’s farm was a pleasure to observe; a slower paced progression of hours where being outside was met with a crispness to the air and animals who appreciated your presence. You could immediately see how such a setting could be healing for a broken heart and a woman not quite sure about what she wanted to do next.

Confounded by the medical emergency of her brood of felines, Geneva carts the lot off to the Vet (next door!) where she finds herself a bit uncertain of how she feels as a whole by the experience! First she is upset about how Evangeline could have been attacked and how Dr. Zhivago could have caught a cold; but it’s how the veterinarian took her off-guard that truly was mischievous of Hining, as he allowed us to see how upturnt Geneva could become if she isn’t the one in control of a situation! Dr Smith inherited three of the cats (named fittingly after the Stooges) when two claimed his house as their ‘new home’ much to the delight of the doctor who needed cats to chase off the mice! Thinking she caught a good turn to reduce her pack of nine cats, imagine how gobsmacked she was when Dr Smith announced “congratulations on Evangeline’s next litter”! I kid you not!

Geneva slowly started to allow herself to move past her ex-boyfriend, whilst attempting to resolve the leftover bits that still struck a chord in her heart. The emotional baggage of not being with the right person who understands you and the doubts which slowly start to overcloud your conscience can takeover the joys that are moving to alight on your path in those quiet moments where you were never expecting them to land. Geneva is curiously perplexed by her new feelings but also, open to the magical windows of how sometimes the best bits in life arrive in hours your not expecting anything other than a period of growth to heal your past hurts. Thus, we start to see Geneva appreciating her time back home, gently noticing the healing karma of the mountains whilst hugging into the new memories she was allowing herself to create.

Aside from my struggles with the mountain language being included for certain characters who were written true to their nature, I appreciated reading the backstories of the mountain folk who called this part of the state home. It spoke to the reasons why Geneva and her sister Rachel felt so closely connected to God and to their countryside community; where nature and Spirit reside side by side, where faith is a living testament of one’s will as much as representation of the promises yet to transpire. The mountains are full of lore and legends, but at the heart of the people lies solemn truths about life & living, where even women who foolishly climb a mountain at night can find a good Samaritan who can deliver twins on the fly!

There are subtle moments of narrative beauty throughout A Sinner in Paradise, further exploring the setting as a ‘paradise’ slice of heaven here on Earth. These are the moments I cherished as a reader whose heart is tied to the natural world herself; beautiful convictions of timeless beauty if only we each tried to take more time to notice what was surrounding us. It’s a credit to Hining to knit in these scenes and quiet reprieves, inasmuch as to help paint further how much the mountains can shape a woman long into adulthood. The journey Geneva had to take was the one that led her to acknowledge her heart’s true destiny whilst owning to the fact, sometimes the place you call home is the last place you’d consider living because the truth of what makes it a special place for you is sometimes opposite of what your willing to accept as your authentic truth.

Small fly in the ointment:

There were times where I was trying to figure out how this novel turnt quite sassy and saucy in places, whilst it was at the very same moment trying to be a bit more bluntly raw in it’s expressions (i.e. stronger language was peppered a bit throughout the tale). It was quite an introspective novel from the level this is from the perspective of how Geneva was perceiving her life & how she was understanding the period of growth she needed to internalise; therefore, some of the sequences felt awkward to me to read, as they sort of felt as if they belonged to another type of story-line?! Unless I simply missed the humour of the moment in those places; to which I yield to not quite following all of the dialogue outright.

On the writing style of Deborah Hining:

Hining has a way of fusing you inside the psychological anguish of her character by presenting such a tirade of difficult circumstances that you cannot help but want to give Geneva a hug and pot of tea! Her heart is breaking over the shattered remains of her hope for her future; when Howard walked out on her, he truly did rake her over the coals where the good times they once shared were lost. He took away her belief in love and in her hope for what could be if you find the person you feel can share the rest of your life. The fact he took issue with her cats should have been a bit of a clue he might not be the ideal match, but everyone has to learn the truth in their own timing. And, it’s timing that Hining is good at developing inside her character’s personality – she elongated the moment of exit for Geneva to give us a sense of who she was prior to returning home. In those hours, we see how despite her conflicting emotions, Geneva simply wants to do what is right (by the cats) whilst figuring out what it is she truly wants out of her life.

Hining has a clever way of appropriating what is right in life and what is seriously not quite ethical as well, in regards to human behaviour, human nature & the incredible non-kosher reactions of those who see something happening right before their eyes without the depth of understanding a compassionate person should bestow within them! I am referring to a retrospective scene spilt over pages 84 and 85 about an accident scene in NYC. The beauty of that scene is how where your living can affect your health in more ways than one! It’s also a sombering realistic look at how certain places your living are simply not the best for understanding what community is and how to properly react to an emergency & crisis. Honestly it did not surprise me, as I’ve heard other tales similar to this about NYC, but when you read this scene it just paints it so clearly to how numb some people have become to a medical emergency!

There is mountain language in the novel which I am a bit familiar with from reading other stories, but in certain places, I felt it was a muddling part of the story for me, as Hining truly kept the authentic vibe happening in the novel by allowing all the characters to speak their native tongue. This is something I respected on her part, but struggled with a smidge to properly understand myself as the words turn in on themselves a bit as your reading the passages. I did gather the proper gist of what was being expressed but I wasn’t quite prepared for the totality of it’s inclusions either.

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This book review is courtesy of Light Messages Publishing.

Awards Banner for A Sinner in Paradise by Light Messages Publishing.

I happily look forward to spending time within the pages of A Saint in Graceland!

This review was delayed due to a curiously intense month of lightning storms sprinkled throughout June with such randomness it was hard to work around! I also lost quite a bit of time due to various technical issues I was experiencing with my blog and an exhausting intense invasion of ants of whom were the most difficult little creature to convince to ‘reside elsewhere’ then inside my study! Ergo, my review on behalf of this novel was pushed into July rather than being featured soon after I began reading it!

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Reader Interactive Question:

What uplifts your spirit the most whilst your reading INSPY Fiction!? What draws you back to continue to read authors who are writing stories where faith is centremost in focus to the drama of the narrative unfolding within the novel’s chapters!?

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I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary! Especially if you read the novel or were thinking you might be inclined to read it. I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst bloggers who picked up the same novel to read.

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{SOURCES: Cover art of “A Sinner in Paradise” and “A Saint in Graceland”, book synopsis, series blurb, Awards banner for “A Sinner in Paradise” and author photograph of Deborah Hining were all provided by Light Messages Publishing and used with permission. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets embedded by codes provided by Twitter.

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Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2016.

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Saturday, 2 July, 2016 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, #LitChat, 21st Century, Balance of Faith whilst Living, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Book Review (non-blog tour), Christianity, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Debut Author, Debut Novel, Fly in the Ointment, Indie Author, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, INSPY Realistic Fiction | Non-Fiction, Life Shift, Light Messages Publishing, Modern Day, Spirituality & Metaphysics, Vulgarity in Literature, Women's Fiction, World Religions

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