Celebrating my 5th #Blogoversary with a retrospective about why I appreciate reading #INSPY Fiction whilst conveying how blessed I am to start reading the stories penned by Kellie Coates Gilbert! Starting with the 3rd Texas Gold series novel: “A Reason to Stay”.

Posted Saturday, 31 March, 2018 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Borrowed Book By: I originally crossed paths with Ms Kellie Coates Gilbert in [2014] wherein I met her through her participation in the group author blog “Southern Belle View Daily” which was affectionately known as ‘Southern Belle View’. I was a regular visitor who chatted with the authors on the blog and engaged in the content they were sharing. I had the opportunity to receive the first two novels of the Texas Gold series shortly afterwards, however, due to a variety of adversities which took me away from the joys of reading these past several years, it wasn’t until this New Year 2018 where I could lay heart and mind back into the stories I had to shelve for another day where I could focus properly on their contents.

I was originally gifted a copy of “A Reason to Stay” by my Mum, who knew how excited I was to start reading the Texas Gold series – this is within the year or so of this third installment’s release. I was going to surprise the author and read all three novels back to back whilst sharing my reactions with my readers as I have a self-directed focus on INSPY authors I am either re-discovering or just now becoming aware of as I re-start my readings in earnest into the INSPY realms of Fiction.

I go into why I had to borrow through ILL’ing (interlibrary loaning) this novel in this top anchour ahead of revealling my ruminations on the emotionally evocative story Ms Gilbert has written for us – however, I wanted to mention I am choosing to share my thoughts on behalf of this story for my own edification inasmuch as inspiring my readers to become acquainted with a #newtomeauthor I am truly blessed to have found. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

A unique introduction into the Texas Gold series – or rather,

why INSPY Lit is an important part of Jorie’s bookish life:

a retrospective whilst celebrating entering a 5th Year as a Book Blogger

I originally crossed paths with Ms Gilbert whilst she was part of Southern Belle View – a lovely group author blog I used to frequent six years ago, a bit prior to becoming a book blogger – of which I am celebrating my 5th Blogoversary *today!* on the 31st of March, 2018! This was the day I love to observe as the day I created Jorie Loves A Story – whereas I honour the day I launched my blog to the world on the 6th of August every year as the day in which my blog has its public ‘birthday’.

I was thankful to receive two of her novels – which she offered to send me to help me become acquainted with her Texas Gold book series as well as her writing style – as this was a few years ago, the series had just the first two novels recently released. I had hoped to have read both of them close to the time I first received them – however, most of the years I’ve been a book blogger, I’ve had a few set-backs with the plans I’ve made along the way. My health has been a big factor as well as personal strife & tribulations – as we all have lives outside of our bookish and readerly lives of which give us the most joy to share with our readership.

Earlier this year, I reconnected with Ms Gilbert – as I was trying to explain the distance between receiving her novels and being able to fully appreciate reading them this New Year, 2018 – as it was going to become my year back into reading Inspirational Fiction (#INSPY as I like to nickname it on Twitter) whilst proving to be the year I can focus on my *70 Authors Challenge* which specifically focuses on the INSPY niche of Literature as you can see on the main page I created for this personal exploration of a branch of Lit I am definitely passionate about reading! I’ve been a hybrid reader my entire life – moving in and out of INSPY and mainstream channels of interest since I was a young girl. This equated to regular visits to Christian bookstores (at the time, in the 80s and 90s the only place truly to find INSPY being sold) as well as big box, Indie and mall (remember those?) chain bookstores – to see a wide spectrum of both titles, genres and bookish realms!

I would also frequent used book shoppes – even before it was fashionable to gather a bit of insight into the books falling ‘off’ publication and/or the backlist of authors I might one day feel inclined to be reading. In essence, I’ve led quite a bookish life despite having a rocky start at learning to read (ie. as a dyslexic learner).

INSPY was a joy to be reading simply due to the beautiful uplift of JOY I received from reading the story-lines inasmuch as disappearing into fascinating worlds where kids like me were taking on keenly lived adventures! The Cooper Kids series and the Mandie series were personal favourites – of the latter, I had only hoped Ms Leppard could have lived long enough to pen the College years of Mandie’s personal growth rather than the single chapter of her University days. I cherish all of my Mandie editions, singularly regretting I never wrote the author a letter (if you can imagine, I have shy tendencies – these days I tend to reach out to authors directly on a regular basis – but I still have moments where I hesitate) and hope I have all of the installments as I had to remember which number I was on and collect as many as I could before they went out of print. Due to those fond memories of walking beside Mandie, Joe, Celia, Uncle Ned and her Grandmother – I started to explore adult INSPY Literature in my formative years. (see also the Mandie page on Wikipedia)

I settled on Judith Pella and then took a proper hiatus til I discovered Dee Henderson, Deeanne Gist and Julie Lessman. More recently in the early days as a book blogger (my 1st Year) I crossed paths with Brenda S. Anderson – of whom is now a beloved author for me to read with the added blessing of being on her Street Team. (see also the archive of my posts for Ms Anderson) I am still reading her Coming Home series this Spring – wherein I hope to reveal my thoughts on the last two installments of this series before moving into her Where the Heart Is series.

Moving forward – when I first found Southern Belle View, I also found The Word Wenches (another beautifully lovely group author blog), the writerly reader blog of Ms Lauren Willig, the many blog visits of Ms (Julie) Lessman which were ‘organic blog tours’ of their own kind and the lovely blog of Ms (Mary) Ellis. I had a singular route I would visit and comment upon regularly – hence why I initially conceived of the spark of inspiration which lateron became ‘Jorie Loves A Story’.

In those early days of laying down the foundation of my blog, I wanted to re-focus on INSPY Literature – start reading the stories of the authors I was visiting with regularly in the book blogosphere and start to share my bookish life. However, I was such a newbie to book blogging – trying to sort out how I wanted to articulate my writerly style as a book blogger, whilst mindful there was a larger community out there I was slowly becoming a part of – from readers, to fellow book bloggers, to authors who had other author group blogs as well as wading into the realms of both INSPY and mainstream publishing channels of interest.

What I was surprised by is not finding a lot of other hybrid readers – those of us who move between both worlds of thought and regularly love to share our readerly adventures. I’ve been wanting to share glimpses into why I am drawn into certain INSPY authors and why I love reading INSPY Non-Fiction whereas in the past I was mostly a Historical INSPY kind of gal! Truly, as a regular time traveller of fictional worlds – you would have thought it would have dawned on me the historic past played such a pertinent role in my readerly tendencies! (sadly, it hadn’t fused to my heart until I was somewhere between my 2nd & 3rd Year as a Book Blogger!)

Fast forward – Southern Belle View was a group author blog who had a rotation of guest authors being featured each of the days they would host new posts & discussions. A few times they would host bookaways, but mostly it was a place to engage in light-hearted chatter, bookish topics and get to know the ‘writers’ themselves in an interpersonal way as you were commenting directly with them on each of their ‘daily’ posts – which is why the full name was ‘Southern Belle View Daily’ as each of the Belles themselves were living in the ‘Southern’ tier of the States – from Texas to Mississippi to Louisiana (I believe?) and someone I believe was in the Carolina’s. The uniqueness of their writing styles and the ways in which they interacted with their readership was what pulled me into their posts.

I fell lin love with Ms (Lisa) Wingate’s writing style when I first read “The Prayer Box” which touched my spirit and my heart alike – it also marked my first ‘blog tour’ as a book blogger of which I was forever grateful for JKS Communications for giving me a chance to participate in such an event during my first ‘live’ month on Jorie Loves A Story. My parents would gift me a copy of the next story in sequence as this became a series of stories – known best as the Carolina Chronicles – however, I still need to gather a copy of the omnibus edition of the novellas which released betwixt the others and the final story in the trilogy. I was planning to let this series become my gateway into other stories of the Belles but then, of course – I was honestly ‘distracted’!

As I became more active in book blogging and started to sort out how to work with authors, publisher and publicists – I sort of started to focus on garnishing a readership for Jorie Loves A Story whilst sorting out the kind of stories I wanted to focus on reading overall. I also was gaining traction on how best to balance my personal library readings with the stories I was borrowing through my public library – the balance of course remained elusive to my intentions until two years ago – wherein during 2016 I started to implement changes in my blogging schedules. I began a personal Renaissance of redirection and re-focus of my personal goals for Jorie Loves A Story in other words.

You can see the fuller effect of those efforts now in 2018 – as I purposefully schedule less blog tours, am ever more vigilant about being particularly particular about the stories I accept for review and am starting to reap the rewards of being able to read ‘more’ but read without hard deadlines (for the most part). I am also merging into a new vein of my bookish life where I am shifting towards a goal of reading 50% of the books via print editions and listening to 50% of the books via audio editions. This became more apparent as a personal need of mine when I noticed a reduction in my chronic migraines – hence why you see more audiobook reviews populating on my blog!

Towards that end – this year, I am gathering more audiobooks outside of blog tours – whilst taking advantage of being able to ILL (interlibrary loan) audiobooks on CD and borrowing eaudiobooks directly from my library’s OverDrive catalogue as well.

All of these small personal changes were leading me back to the world of INSPY Lit – whilst my Mum and Dad have been helping me as for the past year and a half they have spent my blogoversarsies and blog birthdays gifting me anthologies of INSPY novellas! You’ll see my reading adventures into those as the months move forward as I am slowly working my way through a personal list of #nextreads and #mustreads – most of which are listed on my *70 Authors Challenge* page. This gives a keen insight into the genres and themes of INSPY Lit I gravitate towards whilst owning to the fact even when I set a plan into action, I do deviate and ‘add’ more authors of focus! Laughs with mirth.

This journey of mine has led me to the writings of Kellie Coates Gilbert – she blessed me with the first two Texas Gold novels whereas Mum gifted me the third novel “A Reason to Stay” – however, during an end of Summer cleaning, I ended up packing up a large portion of my books to unpack as I finish the ones I had on my bookshelves – as I had to reduce my bookcases two years ago. This gives me a rotation of stories rather than keeping them all unpacked all at once – of course, one day I hope to have a designated room again for all the lovely stories but until then, I sorted out how to make due with less space to greet them all on a daily basis. I thought for sure I had kept all of Ms Gilbert’s novels together – yet, one went missing! This very novel – the third installment of the series!

I fretted over it for a bit longer than I ought to have in February before Mum came to my rescue and said – before you go hog wild trying to find which box has which book, why don’t you just simplify it and borrow it through ILL’ing? You know how much you love to seek out your ILLs! lol She surely does know me well! The novel came rather promptly (in early March) however, March became a wicked horrid month for personal health – this is why I was severely under-read at the start of Spring.

I wanted dearly to read this series in order – though it is a true test of patience and faith to acknowledge not everything is meant to go according to plan! It is our continued quest towards remaining humble in our lives to realise it is ‘okay’ to do things outside of the plans we set for ourselves – owning to the fact sometimes doing things out of sequence is actually a ‘good thing’. At least this is what I resolved realising as ILLs are only with us for three weeks – given how I spent those weeks under the weather, I chose to read “A Reason to Stay” ahead of “A Woman of Fortune”.

The reason I wanted to share this longer back-story with you is to give you an insightful view of my journey back to INSPY Literature. I’ve yearned to pick up where I left off during those years where I was trapped inside a reader’s rut – researching authors and stories but never reading them. I even gathered half of my personal library during those years – spilt between as aforesaid INSPY and mainstream authors. (whether they were Indie or traditionally published as well)

One of the biggest blessings I’ve had these past five years is the JOY of reading without failure to connect to the stories – meaning, there was such a time where I felt disconnected from how novels were written as motion pictures were easier for me to ‘connect’ with in a quasi-visceral manner of enjoyment. Somewhere between the initial inspiration for Jorie Loves A Story – I not only healed my reading life but I reclaimed a passion for ‘writing’ as well. As my blog is an extension of my writerly life in a way I am sure might remain overlooked by most of my readers. You get a sense of my personal writing life if you move in and out of my posts – all five years worth – as there is a growth amongst the archives from day one to the present day.

I am overjoyed the story I get to share with you, as I celebrate my 5th Blogoversary as a Book Blogger – where I found a newfound passion for being a book cheerleader and a author’s advocate is “A Reason to Stay” because even before I read the story itself, the title struck a chord in my own heart. I found my own ‘reason to stay’ a book blogger when I realised by sharing my bookish ruminations, I get to leave notes of gratitude back to the writers who are enriching my life with their stories. I get to acknowledge how their stories affect me and what impressed me about how they approached their individual perspective of how stories can thrive when fused so eloquently with their own personal imagination and vision for the craft of writing.

I am staying a book blogger due to the pure celebration of ‘stories’ I love reading but also the continued love of pursuing the written word in all its facets of exploration – wherein the story itself is where my own enlightenment is actively found. I love spreading bookish JOY – thank you for being a part of my journey here on Jorie Loves A Story. May you remain with me as I continue to seek out the stories which touch my mind, heart and soul.

And, may 2018 be a year where I can finally re-merge my INSPY readings into my regular readerly life, as they become fused directly into my life once more – as they have been an absence I have missed reconnecting with these past five years. They’ve been there, of course, hovering in the background – but now, I am thankful they can take their rightful spot as co-navigators of my bookish world!

postscript: I am sitting on a lovely SURPRISE I received this year, connected to the Texas Gold series – as I am reading this series back to back – resuming where I left off within Faith’s story (ie. A Reason to Stay) by pursuing the journey I am about to take with Claire (ie. A Woman of Fortune) – you’ll simply have to wait to find out about the blessing I received and my further ruminations on behalf of this heart and soul centred series!

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

Notation on the condition of this paperback: Did you notice how well-loved this interlibrary loaned copy of “A Reason to Stay” is ?? This curling of the bottom pages is how it reached my hands – the cover is now ‘soft’ to the touch, hinting towards how many bookish spirits have entered this novel and the ways in which the pages easily turn speaks of how this story has touched a lot of hearts ahead of my own. Although I am dearly particular how I read my own books – I can recognise a smile of joy in seeing how well-read a library book is by the patrons like me who amplify their reading life by the collections of public libraries which give us a renewal of hope to be able to seek out all the stories we readily wish to be reading irregardless of our purchasing budget – as public libraries fuell our reading lives as much as our intellectual curiosities (in the Non-Fiction realms).

A Reason to Stay Book Photography Credit: Jorie of jorielovesastory.com. Photo edits and collage created in Canva.

A Reason to Stay
Subtitle: A Texas Gold Novel
by Kellie Coates Gilbert
Source: Borrowed from local library (ILL)

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

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Find on Book Browse

ISBN: 9780800722746

Published by Revell

on 6th October, 2015

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 336

Published by: Revell (@RevellBooks)

an imprint of Baker Publishing Group

Formats Available: Hardback, Trade Paperback and Ebook

 The Texas Gold series:

A Woman of Fortune (Book One) | Synopsis

Where Rivers Part (Book Two) | Synopsis

A Reason to Stay (Book Three)

What Matters Most (Book Four) | Synopsis

About Kellie Coates Gilbert

Kellie Coates Gilbert

Kellie Coates Gilbert has won readers’ hearts with her compelling and highly emotional stories about women and the relationships that define their lives. A former legal investigator, she is especially known for keeping readers turning pages and creating nuanced characters who seem real.

Born and raised near Sun Valley, Idaho, Kellie now lives with her husband of over thirty-five years in Dallas, where she spends most days by her pool drinking sweet tea and writing the stories of her heart.

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

Notations on reading the Author’s Dedication & Ackowledgements – yes, Jorie really does *read!* those sections ‘ahead’ of reading the stories – doesn’t everyone?:

To sweet for words! Ms Gilbert dedicated this novel to her grand-children – as a former grand-daughter, I awed in admiration. I love seeing who an author dedicates their novels too and of course, the sweetness of how pet names are admirably shared with all of us but are especially heartfelt to observe by those who are the intended receivers of the praise.

And, happily right *there!* in her Acknowledgements in the back pages – I found the epitome of why I find myself drawn into INSPY Contemporary Fiction – by such writers as Ms Gilbert and Ms (Brenda) Anderson – as I shall paraphrase “stories rooted in the heart of a character’s journey whilst exploring the complexities of contemporary life through an emotional compass of entry”. *Whew!* I wasn’t sure I could re-write Ms Gilbert’s own declaration but I did! As I am never sure what we’re able to ‘quote’ from the context of a novel (hence why all book quotes are only used on my blog after I understand the permissions first) – in one sentence, she summed up not only my reading life but my personal interest of focus as a ‘writer’.

As she spoke about her research opportunities into news studios and bass fishing contests (and the professional bass fishing circuit) it spoke to my own list of future research goals – of where you get to get inside access to places you never dreamt possible in the pursuit of ‘research’ for a working manuscript! I, too, love how we can interview people or visit places of interest which pertain to our novels but of course are ‘first-time experiences’ for us all the same! What blessed joy in hearing her recollections and the happiness she had along the way!

The best part of all though is her dedication to her readers – she is approachable and kind-hearted. She has given me a lot of joyful encouragement over the past few years – even if I wasn’t yet able to lay thought and heart into her stories – it’s her joyfulness and her compassionate friendliness to connect with her readers – current and future, which warms your heart. She truly loves being a writer and the circle of connection between writers and readers; for this, I am full of gratitude our paths crossed on Southern Belle View even if it was just a short time before the blog and the team of authors behind it had to go through a transformation (ie. the blog dissolved and it became a ‘Facebook’ exclusive entity).

my review of a reason to stay:

I personally adore when a writer can ‘hook’ you with a jolt of humour straight out of the gate! Ms Gilbert surely understands this vehicle of entrance well – as I was tickled pink by the very first few sentences of settling my eyes inside ‘A Reason to Stay’! The truthfulness of the declaration notwithstanding – it’s the openness of vulnerable honesty and the humour of recognising the moment where a passed-down antidote of how best to live one’s life truly hits home. I am sure for all readers – as who hasn’t heard the expression and hasn’t seen how it cross-applies to their own life?

Amen, sister! I love how we segue into the rights of women needing to be acknowledged for something other than the ‘fluff’ – as journalists (in this instance) or anchours (who are journalists in their own rights) Ms Gilbert makes the argument for how networks tend to overlook the strength of women who are in the front lines of programming from the point-of-view of hosts and those who readily engage with the public. Not always in the vein of the ready-made-works-for-all-networks regalia of pop cultural newsbits and soundbites but the heartier chunk of positive news-casting or special topical interest shows which give you something to chew on rather than the never-ending eye roll of realising society can act childish more times than naught!

Mind you, I do love pop culture – but you have to admit, there are some aspects of it which truly make you go ‘hmm’ time after time,… I mean, seriously!

Being a viewer of television with a keen interest in what goes on ‘behind’ the camera and scenes of both live-action news-casting, episodic series and reality shows – I have acquired some trivia of the reality of such productions wherein Ms Gilbert nails the truth in the pudding: it boils down to bottom-line returns! Not just in television but across the Industry as a whole – throw in the Indies, the Hollywood market and the overseas producing markets as well – everything and its cousin inter-related to Media & Film is quite literally hog tied to gross sales, marketing selling points and bankable leveraging. The sad truth is a lot of what is produced is due to its instant return potential and/or it’s short term or long term marketability or its cross-generational appetite of interest to the viewing public.

Even if between me you and the lamppost – the key demographic is fixated on 18-35 or thereabouts into a finite mark in the future. If you love the innovation, the quality over quantity and the substance of story-telling or realistic content which parlays back into our everyday lives (for non-fictional content) – your in the minority who literally influence the ‘trends’ – or rather, your like Jorie. Constantly disheartened by what gets cancelled and perplexed to infinity over what gets green-lighted! Or even, why your flummoxed it takes longer to find ‘one series’ or ‘one film’ to rally behind these days – until you Redbox yourself into finding Dianne Lane was featured in a new film whilst portraying a wicked lovely character in Eleanor Coppola’s first directorial debut in “Paris Can Wait” which gives you hope for motion pictures which have a hearty dose of ‘substance whilst shifting into the exploration of a woman’s soul against the background of road trekking through a foreign country’. The trailers on the dvd also renewed your hope there are others out there who share your passion of interest finding four or five more films to ‘gather’ to be seen in a time where you could barely find a handful where the biggest stand-outs are “The Mountain Between Us” for its soulfulness arc of the human condition to survive the impossible and the transcendence of true love whilst the remake of “The Murder on the Orient Express” gives a new shine of light into the depths of golden genius behind why Agatha Christie is as timeless at her craft as Shakespeare!

I digress. I simply meant to say, I get this character’s angst! What affects your choices as a professional are as maddening as what affects your choices as a viewer! Faith I can tell was slowly finding her own faith in the path she was walking to falter due to the absurdities of how her field was micromanaged and regulated – not out of passion for the field itself but in what the monies and feedback said about public opinion and the impressions of what people felt was important in their lives even if those ratings and statistics were not always a realistic impression of anything at all.

As soon as the walking-texting-marketing guru entered Faith’s life, I knew we were in for a wild ride between compromise and professional integrity. These two women are from opposite schools of thought about how to approach their professional lives – one is clearly rooted in the theory of focus groups and the projected imagery of how you are ‘interpreted’ by others without the foundation of reality to back it up and the other one is struggling to maintain composure and not let her temper flare due to the absurdity of being chastised for things which truly are a notch below the ethical line in the sand. Superficialism is most definitely overrated. Or in other words, I was rallying behind Faith straight out of the gate!

Until, of course – Ms Gilbert gave me a reason to grip the pages a bit harder than intended – as I was bracing myself for something I wasn’t expecting – as what happened to Gabby Giffords floated back into my mind as quickly as I propelled myself to read more of the words which were half crippling my imagination to see what Ms Gilbert was writing as she wrote this sequence with such humbled horror and shock: I quite literally forgot to ‘breathe’ as I read! Once I exhaled as Faith was enroute to the ER, I was re-thinking of the scene – of how fragile our lives truly are and how inseparable we all are from the horrors of reality which seek to re-arrange our ordinary lives into something altered and numbing. I might not have expected this scene but it was written with heart, with compassion and with brilliant insight into how to write an active scene where nothing is off-limits to explore so early-on in the opening bridge of a novel! It is also I should note so very current to ‘now’ and our current lives it’s wicked scary how well it re-heightened our awareness of how senseless violence can become when we’re caught up in the middle of a seemingly ordinary ‘day’ where nothing untoward could have been predicted.

No, ooh no – now we have to await the ‘future’ as we slip back into the past – I was so attached to the last scene the segue was both welcoming and frustrating all the same! You ‘want’ to know more about where we are with Faith in the here and now but as the anguish of that scene floods your emotions you realise a step back is advisable to prepare you for what is still yet to come – as this story has deepened instantaneously into a whole new direction.

We must peer back into the past of Faith’s journey as a news reporter to better understand I’d imagine of how she would have built the foundation of strength to survive the present or rather still, by back-stepping we get a glimpse of how she reached the present by what she learnt through the hard knocks of growing her reputation in the newsroom directly. I remember watching a Hallmark Channel film about an anchour – of how a producer wanted to help the anchour grow in her field but there was a conflict of interest as she reported for a friend’s film project on the side which affected her contract with the station? The name is eluding me – portions of that character’s plight helped me centre on Faith’s as it instantly came back to me – but then, of course, this story-line shifted and became something even more remarkable.

Isn’t the mind an interestingly fascinating part of us? As Faith in the present is undergoing a life altering experience, Faith in the past is first meeting who would become her future husband: Geary. As this is how the mind refuses to ‘let go’ during trauma and tries to ‘heal’ us through re-directing ourselves onto something which is both comforting and calming. Her last thoughts were re-aligning themselves onto Geary before she lost consciousness – therefore, this slip backwards in time to where she was originally meeting him felt right. It would be plausible this is what would be happening to Faith.

As you see Faith in the past, you also see a more innocent version of herself where she wasn’t as seasoned on the job and her ambition to ‘make it’ was driving her more than cautionary optimism of what she could deliver. It is interesting see how she approached an assignment in the past (the Bass tourney) vs how she approached her work in the future. It shows what she’s gone through but also, how sometimes you can become jaded without seeing where your prospective started to shift and where your reactions started to thin against the demands of your career.

I could tell why Faith was charmed by Geary – even with his cheekiness to mention hiding his superhero tendencies inside his fishing gear – you gathered his life was balanced well between his profession, his family and his own walk in faith by the glimpses we were gaining on his behalf. Quite realistically, Ms Gilbert also slipped us back into the present – where medically Faith was in a battle for survival.

I’ll admit – I’ve never had a crawfish either – even if one of my favourite Country songs is about fishing for crawfish – sung in rounds and has some of the most memorable lyrics inside it by a band I happily discovered as they were just beginning their career. There is a lively scene at Geary’s family’s house where they’re having a crawfish gathering – if your familiar with the lobster boils and bakes of New England, I am sure this would rank as high in favour for those who live between Texas and Louisiana. For me personally, seafood just never quite intrigued me as much as vegetarian foods and fare – sometimes you just have to eat what you dream about the most and for me, that’s every which way to Sunday you can conceive of dressing up farm fresh veg into a gourmet entree!

Even though – by the looks of things, Faith lucked out in the in-law department as Geary’s family was not just warm and welcoming but they were beautifully close-knit which is something that is growing quite rare. They had an ease about them and a genuineness you observed in Geary – so much so – you wonder what was fracturing their relationship in the future? Perhaps they were growing apart due to a separation in life goals? Hard to speculate but as we re-enter their dating life we start to see how Faith put down the bones of her career path – by tackling hard stories and gruelling demands to not just make a name for herself but to push herself past her comfort zones on a continual basis. In pursuit of Geary, she was slowly finding herself willing to accept she might not have to walk through life without a partner; someone she could share her hours with and feel confident they could handle anything which could come along in their lives.

As we see Faith struggling to recapture where she is and what has happened we feel the ache of her soul as she tries to pierce back into conscience awareness. Even then, as she starts to pull the pieces back together, we feel her anguish, her emotions and the difficulty of ‘remembering’ when the act of recovering your memories is almost too much to bear as the first time around was difficult enough. Ms Gilbert has seamlessly moved in and out of trauma to delighting us in the joys of falling in love for the first time by someone who caught your heart at an unexpected moment in your life when you felt love might pass you by.

Part of what caused the insurrection in their marriage is how their differences started to erode their stability. Faith didn’t come from a background where parents respected each other and leaned on each other in a true partnership – something Geary all but took for granted as it was his own upbringing. As we re-appear into their early days of marriage – you start to see how their bond was untethering and disconnecting before it had time to set properly. His family was down to earth but because they were completely different from everyone she had known or rather, opposite of the life she felt she’d lead one day – those slight differences seemed to stack against her own fears casting too many doubts about her confidence in her husband and her willingness to believe they could have longevity in their nuptials. The sad bit really is how humble Geary truly was and how loving his family was towards her as well – they simply didn’t quite fit the mould of ‘family’ Faith had envisioned and this was in-part what started to shake their foundation.

This is a novel about healing through trauma, the recognition of past hurts and the willingness to forgive what cannot be changed. I missed the Author’s Note whilst I was reading the end pages prior to reading this novel – therefore, it was a proper surprise to realise the author was inspired to tell Faith’s story because of the courage of Gabby Giffords! I instantly connected the dots because like Ms Gilbert, I felt connected to Ms Giffords! As I read about the author’s real life stroke and her own strong marriage built on a foundation of faith and grace it reminded me of how strong my parents’ marriage is and how we move through our own adversities – especially inter-related to my father’s bilateral moderate stroke in November 2016. (see also Not Your Traditional Thanksgiving and my January 2017 Update)

I felt rooted to Faith’s journey – Ms Gilbert truly honed in on the journey of Ms Gifford’s but also paralleled the similarities with a wholly new entreaty about how life, marriage and the afflictions we never see coming in our lives test our resolve. She truly digs into the heart of what is important in life and why secrets from the past can be strong enough to break us. She has etched out such a rounded story filled to the brim with personal conviction and an evocative emotional story which seeks to encourage your own soul as you read Faith’s renaissance back to a healthier and authentic ‘self’. You can’t put it down – it’s one of those beautifully lovely realistic contemporaries which touches your heart and never let’s you go.

On the contemporary & realistic styling of ms Gilbert:

As soon as I dove into “A Reason to Stay” it felt like ‘coming home’ to a writer I’ve read previously and had already realised I loved reading! Seriously – her writing instincts match my readerly desires of how I would love to see a Contemporary Women’s Fiction explored! She drove straight into the heart-punch of how vexing it is to be a professional in a field where you could not remain openly vulnerable without losing a piece of your own soul nor could you allow yourself to be placed in a vise of where a network could literally sell a part of your soul for their bottom-line.

It was an interesting entry point as you feel as if this story is already in-progress and your getting straight into the heart of why Faith is truly not realising the edge of the cliff she’s about to be straddling in her professional life. Although I agreed with a lot of the insight of how the Industry is managed, produced and articulated through what women have to go through to remain ‘on top’ in the role of anchoured journalism, I have never and would never judge a woman (or a man, to be frank) to such a harsh degree of unrealistic proportions because it seeks to decay their humanity out from under them. In other words, society is too focused on the superficial and misses the human condition which unites us all.

Ms Gilbert’s humour and phrases are identical to my own personal style – in fact, she twists phrases to empathise a point so eloquently and so cheekily creatively I was nodding in admiration for how well-thought out her choices were to convey the emotion in the height of a heated ‘conversation’ between Faith and the millennial who was supposed to be her new ‘branding’ marketing advisor. I had to roll my own eyes over that placeholder definition as anything involving ‘branding’ gets a critical eye from me as I never did fully buy into that particular component of our publishing lives as our interests can alter and vacillate through our writing lives – to be pigeon-holed early-on seems self-defeating towards a writer’s long-term goals.

To bank that against the plot – I felt Faith was being told she wasn’t good enough if she didn’t conform enough to someone elses perspective of ‘who’ she was meant to project in both image, tone and inflection of presence as a news anchour and on-camera journalist. In essence, she was becoming a commodity rather than a woman who had her own independent thoughts and brought enough to the table to be worth her salt on air without the interference of a ‘branding marketer’. All of which is brilliantly executed by Ms Gilbert who taps into both sides of the argument whilst honing in on Faith’s personal journey towards self-discovering who she wants to be vs who is being forced to become. And, that dear hearts is where the best fodder is to uncover in how Ms Gilbert approached writing this novel!

Her uncanny accuracy and mindful approach to hard-hitting topics of interest – from the role of women in media and news to the harrowing realities of gun violence and the after effects of brain injuries – Ms Gilbert has put such a high level of soulful depth into this story-line, she simply grabs you by how well she tells the story! It’s in the little touches – the paragraphs where you feel so accustomed to the professional lives of her characters, it is almost as if she lived a life inside the newsroom herself. To the moments of how professional the medics are and how numbing it is to find yourself in the middle of a violent attack without being able to process any of it as Faith hadn’t been able to herself. She has taken her research and her dedication to telling realistic stories centerfold – she writes Realistic INSPY in the vein of Brenda S. Anderson and Deeanne Gist’s one-off “Beguiled” for which I am grateful to have found. These are the writers who are writing INSPY stories for readers who are seeking depth and purpose inside today’s Contemporary INSPY.

Their relevant as much as they are honest – they speak the truths of our world but they force us to re-trace our own thoughts as we read their stories. They generate conversations through narrative and they speak the truths of our walks of faith by showing how their characters deal with our everyday world with a courage wrought out of their own hope for their future and the grace of how their faith will lead them forward out of the adversities which befall them.

An afterward of Jorie’s:

Why I have a penchant for Contemporary INSPY Fiction and why it’s slowly taking over my love for Contemporary (mainstream) Fiction:

I need to preface this by saying, as a book blogger I have outed my personal angst with finding strong language in mainstream literature – it won’t take half a second to realise my *thread of ‘vulgarity in lit’ has slowly taken on a life of its own. I also realise a lot of people might wonder why I haven’t said I would stop reading mainstream literature – as I know this is one reason why a lot of INSPY readers are not hybrid readers like I am due to the high risk (per se) of finding language or content which might feel offensive to them. I never took that argument myself – as my angst with vulgarity is independent of my faith life as is a personal preference of not wanting to see an overtly strong narrative explicitly peppered with words I chose not to use regularly in my personal life; ergo, why would I want them in the stories I read? Not to mention the fact, I never had friends or family who used them on a regular basis either – so for me, the whole inclusion of them when it banks on hyper inclusiveness is just plain ‘awkward’ and rankling. There just not the words I want in my head on a regular basis – and blessedly, not all mainstream authors use them to such a high degree as to raise my brow or give me bookish angst.

Having said that – there is a stark difference between INSPY Contemporary Fiction which has the tendency of being “Women’s Fiction” outside the mainstream realms – and the releases outside of INSPY which I find harder to ‘connect with’ due to a variety of reasons though of late, I must admit, is where I do find the higher number of strong words being used. This wasn’t always the case – as in my teens and twenties especially I saw a reduced amount of vulgarity in ‘all genres’ I would read. Why this has altered now in my thirties (and almost forties) is truly a wonderment of its own reckoning.

This isn’t to say I won’t read mainstream Women’s Fiction – it is one of my happiest sub-focuses of interest as a reader, as it pulls you straight into the heart of a woman’s life – from relationship to family to self to career and all routes inbetween. It is the story of ‘everywoman’ who is trying to recognise herself in the midst of her ‘life’ and understand who she is whilst trying to life at the same time. It’s complicated, it’s muddling and it’s emotionally taxing at times but it’s wicked good literature all the same! Yet. Personally? I am finding there are some writers who push me too far – either through visuals, words/phrases or simply content – some even have inclusions of scenes I would have felt could have best been left out (not just limited to intimacy and sexual relations which push the envelope into the one branch of Rom I never seek out) — to where I’m noticing a return of interest to seek out INSPY Contemporary stories with a full desire to read these stories moreso than their mainstream counterparts.

Again, it’s a personal preference of interest – of where I am right now in my reading life and where I am heading next – as we all evolve as readers. We all constantly push ourselves to read more dynamically and that is individually specific. We also all have personal preferences in literature and personal hopes of what we will discover next – all of us are united in a clear desire to ‘read’ and find the ‘stories’ which speak directly to us – taking us into different lifestyles, unique voices of thought, characters who stay with us long after we greet them and worlds – historical, contemporary, fantastical or futuristic (to name a few!) where we feel we’ve lived a mile and a lifetime within them.

These were my thoughts as I entered “A Reason to Stay” as the title continued to inspire me to recognise my own growth as a reader and as a book blogger. As I enter my 5th Year, I am recognising changes – changes in preference, changes in interest and even changes in how I approach blogging on Jorie Loves A Story. I take that as a ‘win’ as personally, we should all strive to re-invent ourselves and our lives every so often – to dare to conceive new dreams for our lives inasmuch as the dreams we have for the stories we haven’t yet met. There are less hours than we dare wish to recognise to read and thereby, if we remain true to what interests us and what pulls us forward into those narratives which demand to be ‘read’ right here and now – than we are living more authentically and true to who we’ve become as we inspired ourselves to seek out the writers who pen the stories we love best.

PS: This simply means – my quirky nature of being ‘particularly particular’ in selecting stories to be reading next is going to continue to be my mainstay. This declaration of mine doesn’t mean I’m excluding mainstream Contemporary Fiction or Women’s Fiction – it seem means, the bar has been set high by specific authors in both publishing markets who have raised the bar for me. It is a credit to their personal writing styles I want to be vigilantly particular in what I read as I move towards my Sixth Year as a Book Blogger and beyond.

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

This book review is happily a part of my journey reading INSPY Fiction whilst engaged in a personal reading challenge focus on *70 Authors*. At the same time, it is also part of my sub-focus on reading the authors who were either part of Southern Belle View in the past or are currently participating in the group of authors who write Southern Contemporary INSPY Lit for readers who are seeking what I refer to as ‘Southern Charmed Fiction’.

70 Authors Challenge Badge created by Jorie via Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Photographer Brigitte Tohm. (Creative Commons Zero)Belle Fiction Reading Challenge banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

{Sources: Book covers of “A Woman of Fortune”, “Where Rivers Part”, “A Reason to Stay” and “What Matters Most”; author photography of Kellie Coates Gilbert and author biography where provided by the author Kellie Coates Gilbert and are used with permission. Post dividers are from the Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Book Review Banner using Unsplash.com (Creative Commons Zero) Photography by Frank McKenna, the Comment Box Banner as well as A Reason to Stay Book Photography Credit: Jorie of jorielovesastory.com (edits/collage in Canva).}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2018.

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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, 31 March, 2018 by jorielov in 21st Century, 70 Authors Challenge 2013-19, Balance of Faith whilst Living, Based on an Actual Event &/or Court Case, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Birthdays & Blogoversaries, Blog Tour Host, Book Review (non-blog tour), Christianity, Clever Turns of Phrase, Contemporary Romance, Crime Fiction, Disabilities & Medical Afflictions, Equality In Literature, Family Drama, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Gabby Giffords, Humour & Satire in Fiction / Non Fiction, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Inspired by Stories, INSPY Realistic Fiction | Non-Fiction, Investigative Reporter | Journalist, Learning Difficulties, Library Catalogues & Databases, Library Find, Library Love, Life Shift, Local Libraries | Research Libraries, Medical Fiction, Mental Health, Modern Day, Neurosciences | Neurogenetics, Passionate Researcher, Political Narrative & Modern Topics, Post-911 (11th September 2001), Psychological Abuse, PTSD, Realistic Fiction, Southern Writers, Special Needs Children, Stories of Jorie, Texas, Women's Fiction, Wordsmiths & Palettes of Sage, Writing Style & Voice

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