Posted in Book reviews

Book Review: “October” by J. Grace Pennington


“October” by J. Grace Pennington

An Indie Christian Book

Review copy from the author

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

About the Book:

For Emily Baxter, life is simple. Her world is made up completely of school, church, and the community in the small farming town she calls home. All that changes one fateful Sunday, when a new girl shows up at Pleasanton Baptist—a girl unlike anyone Emily has ever seen. A girl with long red hair, crystal green eyes, and style and posture like royalty. A girl named October. The months that follow are filled with magic—the magic of ordinary things, of finding pictures in the stars, of imagination and a new sense of beauty. But as time goes by, Emily begins to sense that her enchanting new friend may have secrets that could break the spell. Is October really all she seems to be?



My Thoughts:

This is a hard book to review. But not because it wasn’t good. Because it was very good. It was both delightful and rather heart-wrenching. So much beauty, and yet, there was also pain. That’s how life is, isn’t it?
This book was like a whisper. It wasn’t loud or bursting. It was soft, and gentle, like a Fall breeze. Yet it had it’s deeper message, and the ending was bittersweet.
The characters were so very well constructed. So real – this whole book really was. From page one, the writing style drew me in, and connected me with the characters as we got to know them. Emily is a sweet, outgoing girl with a big heart. Her enthusiasm for meeting and welcoming October is endearing.
Emily’s cousin, Jax, is also a great character with a quiet strength. I liked his character very much, and perhaps felt his pain in the end the most, personally.
And of course, October. She was beautiful, and quiet, and complex. Also so sweet.
I really liked this book. The writing is so good. But to be sure, “October” is not a fluffy book. It is a whisper book, yes, but it deals with real issues. And I’m glad for it. I think this can be a very powerful book in a teen’s life (and really, not just teens at all – any age), and in helping understand others. There’s always a story behind every person, and every person has their struggles. I don’t want to give any spoilers away, but at the same time, it is almost expected.
Don’t let that stop you from reading this book, though. Just…be prepared. It’s lovely. But it also has its sorrow.

 !!! *Spoiler*!!! (don’t read this if you haven’t read the book. ^.^)


It is very much like the Bridge To Teribithia (at least the movie – I have not read the book). It is good, and yet so, so sad in the end. I generally prefer happily ever after endings – that’s who I am – so, yes I was very sad by the ending for October and would’ve preferred a happier ending, but at the same time, I understand its ending and why it is this way – it is realistic, it makes sense. It’s just sad.





Click the image to go to its Amazon page.

Posted in Author Interview, blog tour, Books, Give-aways, Questions/answers, reading, Writing

“All Our Empty Places” by Alicia G. Ruggieri -Spotlight, give-away, and Author Interview!

Release Tour banner - All Our Empty Places

I am so delighted to be sharing about this newest book in the A Time of Grace series by the lovely Alicia G. Ruggieri! I had read the first book in this series, “The Fragrance of Geraniums” just earlier this year and was immediately drawn in. And so when I heard that “All Our Empty Places” had a release date, I couldn’t have been more thrilled! You most likely have already seen my review of this lovely book, and thus you can see just how much I adored it. :) So, now it is my utmost pleasure to share about this book with you, along with an interview with the author! And don’t forget that giveaway. :)




Book cover - All Our Empty Places

In 1935, when the bank calls in her mortgage, Sarah Picoletti – now a penniless widow – finds herself and her children on the brink of homelessness. Sick at heart, she plans to beg her brother in New Jersey to take her family in.

Then Doctor Samuel Giorgi knocks on her door. Godly and well-off, Sam seems to have put the careless ways of his youth behind him, and he also appears to have one desire: to make Sarah his wife, two decades after he broke their engagement.
However, nothing prepares Sarah for the storm that breaks once she makes her decision. Everywhere she turns, the errors of her former choices confront her, insisting on her inferiority and the irreparable brokenness of her past. Sarah begins to wonder if Christ really can bring true redemption or if He is limited by her frailty.
Meanwhile, her daughter Grace faces new challenges in her own life. When her relationship with Paulie changes unexpectedly, Grace realizes that she must make a decision with the potential to alter both of their futures.
Compassionate and intensely poignant, All Our Empty Places paints the portrait of a mother and daughter with broken pasts, who dare to step into a future overflowing with the grace of the Cross.



Author photo - Alicia G. Ruggieri

Alicia G. Ruggieri writes Christ-centered fiction that speaks of redemption. She received her B.A. in Communications and History from Rhode Island College and lives with her husband and their emotionally-disturbed pug on the New England coast.



Twitter: @aliciaruggieri



PURCHASE LINKS (And I, Raechel, do suggest this.. ;) Hehe!) :

All Our Empty Places (A Time of Grace, Book 2) –

The Fragrance of Geraniums (A Time of Grace, Book 1) – ON SALE for $0.99 through October 31, 2015 –


Release Tour - giveaway

One winner will receive – a signed softcover of All Our Empty Places; a mug with 2 Corinthians 12:9 inscribed on it; Caramel Apple Biscotti; and Harvest Spice Pumpkin White Hot Chocolate mix. (Open to U.S. residents only due to shipping costs.)


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Author Interview!

Welcome, Alicia! I am delighted to host you on my blog. :) Your books have made such an impact on my life and deeply echo in my heart. Congratulations on this newest release!

I’m glad to be here, Raechel. Your blog has been an encouragement to me since the first day I came across it.

Thank you so much for saying that, Alicia! That really blessed me. :)

  1. When did you first begin writing, and knew that it was ‘for you’?

I’ve always written something or other for as long as I can remember. The first “story” I can recall was a sequel to The Little Mermaid (before there was a sequel!) when I was probably five years old. My mom and some of my school teachers really encouraged me to keep writing as I grew up, and I’m so thankful for that. My writing now is just a continuation of that, as God opens doors.

  1. How did you get the inspiration for A Time of Grace series?

Well, the A Time of Grace series branched out of The Fragrance of Geraniums, which is now book 1 in the series. I’d had the idea for many years for a book that somehow involved an upstairs room full of the scent of geraniums – which is a spicy, almost-bitter fragrance. And that idea came from a real-life room in an elderly woman’s house that I visited as a child. The woman had brought me upstairs to her library room so that she could water her geraniums. The room made such an impression on my childhood self; I’ve always known that a story hid there, somehow, amongst the fragrance of geraniums.

Now I’m going on to writing a trilogy – called A Time of Grace collectively – both because there was positive reader feedback for The Fragrance of Geraniums… and also because I felt that the story wasn’t finished for Paulie, Grace, Sam, Sarah, and the rest of the Chetham, Rhode Island folks. My prayer is that the trilogy helps people to see that God truly can and does bring beauty out of our brokenness – that He wants us empty so that He can fill us with Himself.

How cool. I love when stories come about that way. :)

  1. Having read “All Our Empty Places”, I am curious – do we get to hear anymore from Ben in the third book?

Oh, Ben, Ben! Yes, you will hear a lot more from Ben in book three. I shouldn’t have favorite characters any more than a mother should have favorite children, but *if* I did, Ben would certainly be a contestant. Book three will also hold the conclusion (for now) of Grace and Paulie’s story, as well as bits and pieces of other characters that I’ve grown to love. So there’s a lot ahead in book three.

Oh yay!! Book three sounds so exciting and I can barely wait. :)

  1. Do you have a character that you relate best to in this series?

This is a little hard to answer because I don’t know if I could write a character that I couldn’t relate to in some way. Yes, even Charlie from Fragrance, terrible as that sounds. As John Proctor says in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, I know how black my own sins are! So I can usually relate to a character’s struggles in one way or another.

But I can definitely relate strongly to Sarah and Grace in All Our Empty Places – not to their particular struggles but to the general idea – that we as believers have to find our sufficiency in Christ alone. It’s so easy for me to try to make it through the days, through my life, in my own strength, in my own power. I’m so thankful for the Lord God bringing my focus back to Him and making me realize that I can only find my power to overcome through in Him.

I agree with that; there’s a little piece of us that goes into every character – no matter how ‘bad’ the character may be. And amen! I am also thankful that our Lord brings us back to Him over and over. <3

  1. And lastly, would you mind sharing one instance where you’ve experienced God’s great grace in your life?

The longer I live, the more I realize how much I’m dependent on God’s great grace in every single little area of my life. As Francois Mauriac says, “All is grace.”

But there is one circumstance that potently showed God’s great grace to me. A number of years ago, my family went through a time of extreme personal difficulty – a time of severe spiritual testing in many ways. God upheld us when we cried out to Him – He was our Rock “in a weary land,” as the hymn-writer says. He gave us the grace to step forward in faith, to stake our all on Him, individually and as a family. As a result of staking our all on Him, there was tremendous loss in this world, but there was also tremendous gain spiritually. The circumstances of receiving that grace still sadden me to think of, but I testify to you that our God does indeed give “grace and glory.” (Psalm 84:11) He will be a shield to those who trust in Him. So we need not be afraid to, as Jim Elliot says, “give what we cannot keep to gain what we cannot lose.”

Wow, thank you for sharing that. The hardest times usually reaps the most grace!

Thank you again so much, Alicia for doing this! I pray your books get into the hands of many!!

Thanks for having me, Raechel. It’s been a joy! 


And readers, I hope you’ve enjoyed this interview as much as I did! Be sure to enter the giveaway and check out all of Alicia’s books – they are remarkable!! (If you like medieval type setting, check out her book “The House of Mercy” – I adored that one too!).

And be sure to check out the other blogs participating in this blog tour!



Release Tour Schedule



God’s Peculiar Treasure Rae


TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2015 (release day)

Ready to be Offered

Rachel Rossano’s Words

Letters from Annie Douglass Lima



Seasons of Humility



Writings, Ramblings, and Reflections

Christian Author A.M. Heath



With A Joyful Noise

The Overactive Imagination

Iola’s Christian Reads

A Writer’s Heart



Tour wrap-up @ A Brighter Destiny



Congratulations on the new release, and may many read it! :)