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Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Book Review ~ ALL IN by L.K. Simonds ~ Lone Star Literary Book Blog Tour

ALL IN
by
L.K. Simonds
Genre: Gritty Realistic / Christian Fiction
Publisher: Morgan James Publishing
Date of Publication: August 27, 2019
Number of Pages: 282
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A woman’s empty pursuit of happiness leads to a crisis before finding redemption in the Lord in this challenging and gritty Christian novel. Twenty-nine-year-old novelist and blackjack dealer Cami Taylor seems to have it all—but just underneath her confident exterior and newfound celebrity is a young woman in trouble. Cami’s boyfriend, Joel, wants to get married, buy a house on Long Island, and raise a family—a life that’s a million miles from Cami’s idea of happiness. Her therapist suggests compromise and trust, but Cami would rather bolt like a deer. Breaking things off with Joel, Cami launches herself on a new quest for happiness. But her pursuit of pleasure only takes her further from herself—and toward a harrowing new reality unlike anything she’s faced before. What follows for Cami is a fight to the death that can only be waged with God’s love.
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L.K. SIMONDS PRESENTS CAMI TAYLOR:


I buy all the Fiction and Romance titles for the library system where I work, including Christian Fiction ("CF"). CF readers know to expect certain things from that genre: character-driven, faith based to some degree, with no profanity, graphic violence or sex contained therein. These stories are sometimes referred to as "gentle reads."

All In by L.K. Simonds is classified as Christian Fiction, but it does not fall within the expectations of the genre. As long as readers know that going into this well-written and engaging novel, there shouldn't be too much of a shock to the system. The author's beliefs about the way God lives and moves in our world today are different in some ways from my own; so other than an ending that was not quite what I was expecting, I enjoyed watching a character struggle with life in this often inexplicable world and find some hope and redemption in the end.

Cami Taylor is an author living in New York City who has recently published a very successful debut novel. She is living the dream: has a nice apartment, a loving boyfriend, and is close to finishing a second book. All that starts to fall apart when her boyfriend pushes her for a commitment, and she realizes she doesn't want the same life he has imagined for them together. He accuses her of being closed off and removed in their relationship and encourages her to see a therapist to try to figure out some of her "issues." She doesn't appreciate that (who would?) but goes anyway.

The scenes with the therapist are very realistic based on my own experiences, and we get to know a little more about Cami through them. She was an afterthought in her parent's life, wasn't nurtured by them, and spent a lot of time alone as a child. She learned early on not to depend on anyone and to seek satisfaction in her life on her own terms. She has had many lovers, casual one night stands, and her moral compass is far from what one usually sees in this genre. 

The unexpected sex scenes are tastefully written; but more importantly we begin to see the negative effects Cami's lifestyle is having on her, both physically and mentally. When she receives a shocking diagnosis, she escapes to Texas to stay with a recently discovered distant relative who is a evangelical Christian. Through her interactions with multiple characters in the second half of the book, Cami begins to evaluate some of the mistakes of her past and decides she wants a different life for herself.

There are a few places in the book that I did find unrealistic, but I cannot go into details without spoiling the story for future readers. And, as a Christian myself, I do have some different beliefs about how God interacts with his creation in our contemporary world. Because of that, the ending was not as satisfying to me as the first part of the book.

What kept resonating with me, though, is this: life is messy; we can be very selfish; we make mistakes, daily, and are not always sorry for them. Yet, God loves us in spite of ourselves and created a way of redemption for us all. Cami Taylor personifies this messy life her behavior and thoughts, and I cared for her as a character because she is very human, as we all are. Some CF readers might not enjoy this book for the reasons I mentioned at the beginning of this review. But I am glad I got to witness Cami's journey as, in the end, she went All In.


L. K. Simonds is a Fort Worth local. She has worked as a waitress, KFC hostess, telephone marketer, assembly-line worker, nanny, hospital lab technician, and air traffic controller. She's an instrument-rated pilot and an alumna of Christ for the Nations Institute in Dallas. All In is her first novel.
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ONE WINNER Autographed, library-bound copy of All In + $50 Visa gift card
JANUARY 14-24, 2020
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3 comments:

  1. This is a great review of a complicated book. Thanks for the post.

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  2. Thank you, Kelly! Fantastic review.

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