This post highlights two Christian Fiction books I recently read. The Bookshop of Secrets is a mystery, adventure and story of new beginnings and healing. The Prayer Box is a story of self-worth, new beginnings, speaking up for those who can’t and family. Both of these books also have romance in them, but that is NOT the main focus of either book. The Prayer Box is my fourth book read for my 12 Friends, 12 Books Challenge, so I am one book ahead of schedule.

The Bookshop of Secrets by Mollie Rushmeyer, Lesa Wilson (Narrator)

Published October 25th 2022 by Harlequin (Love Inspired), Harlequin Audio

4 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Hope Sparrow has a lot of secrets. She was orphaned while in elementary school and with a series of foster homes and an older man who took her in, her life has been tragic. She is now on her own trying to connect to her past. She has a letter from her mother that she wrote her before she died. Hope is to go to Wanishin Falls and collect her books from Dusty Jackets, a bookstore where she has left her first edition books with the owner. When she finds them, she is to follow the clues to a family treasure. This seems unbelievable, but she is craving a connection to her family so off she goes. Meeting the owners, she finds out that the man her mother left the books with has dementia and no memory of what happened to the books. It now becomes a hunt for her books and eventually the treasure. Along the way, she meets Ronan, the grandson of the proprietors of the store and they join forces to find first the books, then the treasure.

I want to begin by saying this is a Christian fiction story. There are many references to books, but also verses from the bible and talk of God and faith. I enjoyed this story, with it’s adventure type plot. Ronan and Hope both have a lot of issues to deal with. Hope’s secrets come out as the story progresses and although they are difficult topics, they are dealt with gently. Hope has been on the run for awhile and she has no plans to settle down in Wanishin Falls, but with found family, she begins to feel like she has found a place to belong. The characters are all well developed and I liked them all. I wanted to wrap grandpa in my arms, he was so fragile. I loved the themes of forgiveness, hope, love, found family, helping others and more. Although I was originally drawn to this book because of the idea of a bookshop containing secrets, I loved that it was so much more. I do recommend this story to those who enjoy a book about books, but also ones who like Christian Fiction. I did a read/listen to The Bookshop of Secrets and the audiobook was well done, narrated by Lesa Wilson. She has a pleasant voice to listen to and I enjoyed both reading and listening to this book.

The Prayer Box (Carolina Heirlooms #1) by Lisa Wingate, Xe Sands (Narrator)

Published August 16th 2013 by Tyndale House Publishers, September 1st 2013 by Blackstone Audio, Inc.

4 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I want to thank Lesley @ To Life! for recommending this book to me for my 12 Friends, 12 Books challenge. I definitely enjoyed it.

Tandi Jo Reese, is hiding from a tragic past. She and her two children are renting a cottage on the property of Iola Poole on Hatteras Island. Tandi goes to the big house to see Iola and finds her dead in her bed at the age of 91. When the will is read, Iola leaves her home and property to the church with the hope they will do something good with it. Tandi is given the job of cleaning out the house while being allowed to stay in the cottage. Tandi knows nothing about Iola until she finds 84 prayer boxes, 1 for each year of her life after the age of 7. Tandi begins to read the notes, papers and letters to God. inside each box and gets to know Iola and see what she has been through in her life. With Iola gone, the county commissioners are considering condemning Iola’s house and using her property as a retention pond for runoff to save the million dollar homes built in the last few years to the detriment of an historic home and the ruination of the small town. Tandi and her friend Paul are determined to help save Iola’s home and let everyone else get to know her like they have reading her notes and prayers. With all this going on, Tandi is also dealing with a rebellious teenager, a romance that is not in her best interest and the arrival of her sister who she loves but is not good for Tandi or her children.

The Prayer Box is a wonderful story. I really liked Tandi and wanted her to find what she was looking for in her life. Her childhood was not good, as her mother often dropped her and her sister off to her parents. They were not well off and when mom had them, they struggled. She married a man who had money, but he was not who she thought he was and she was now on the run from him and his business associates. She is trying to be the best mother she can for her children, but her daughter is more like her sister than she wants to admit. I didn’t like Ross, the man she was seeing and neither did most of the characters in the book. He was a user and I wanted her to see that. The ladies she met in town accepted her and her family, but she had such low self-esteem, she constantly worried that they wouldn’t want anything to do with her if they knew her full story. The Prayer Box is a story of self-reflection, self-forgiveness, toxic people, hard decisions, family, friendship and doing what is right for yourself and others. There is a Christian leaning to this story as Iola’s letters are written to “her father – God” but it is a nice, clean women’s fiction story that I think anyone would enjoy. I listened to the audiobook and enjoyed Xe Sands narration. My only complaint was that when she did Iola’s voice, it was very quiet and I had difficulty at times hearing it. Her expression, voices and tone were perfect for this story and I recommend the book in either format.