Tag Archives: Jenny B. Jones

Review: There You’ll Find Me, by Jenny B. Jones

There You’ll Find Me, by Jenny B. Jones (Thomas Nelson, 2011)

Two years ago, Finley Sinclair’s older brother Will died in a terrorist attack while doing humanitarian work. She’s 18 now, and still broken. Her family hopes that a year as an exchange student in Ireland will bring her some closure, as she follows the steps Will recorded in his travel journal. Visiting the sites he loved will help her finish the music she’s composing in tribute, which will be her audition piece for entry into the New York Conservatory.

Teen actor Beckett Rush offers to be her driver—if she’ll work as his assistant. Beckett has charm, good looks, and a bad-boy reputation. She can’t finish her music without his truck, but can she resist his charms? And survive the venom of a jealous classmate?

Although Finley tries to talk to God, He’s been silent for a long time. Her music teacher, Sister Maria, is one safe place in the chaos around her. Her school community service project, visiting a hostile senior citizen, is not.

There You’ll Find Me is a young adult novel, and I’m hardly the target audience. But I’d heartily recommend it for teen girls and women of all ages. An unexpected bonus for me is that Finley is Alex’s younger sister from the author’s adult novel, Save the Date. I’d forgotten her name and was part way through the novel when I put the clues together, and I was so pleased to see her again and to get some news of the rest of the family.

Teens would enjoy Save the Date as well, but it’s not required. Each novel stands alone. Where one follows the other time-wise, reading There You’ll Find Me first would give away one or two key aspects of the first novel’s ending.

Jenny B. Jones is one of my favourite authors. Her characters come to life with a mix of spunk, sass and wit. There You’ll Find Me is funny, touching, and real. And the Ireland it portrays is beautiful. The Thomas Nelson product page has links to a sample chapter and to a discussion guide.

You can find Jenny at her website and her blog. While she’s best known for her young adults’ “Charmed Life” series, (which are good fun for adults as well) she’s also written two novels for adults (safe for teens too). I’ve reviewed them here: Just Between You and Me and Save the Date.

[Complimentary electronic review copy provided by the publisher through BookSneeze®]

Review: Save the Date, by Jenny B. Jones

Save the Date, by Jenny B. Jones (Thomas Nelson, 2011)

Lucy Wiltshire runs a Saving Grace, a non-profit home for 18- and 19-year-old young women who’ve aged out of the foster care system and might otherwise be on the streets. The daughter of a cleaning lady, she feels more in common with these girls than with the affluent Charleston society members on whom she depends for donations.

Her desperate attempt to reverse a major funding cut ends in disaster—and with only one option to keep a roof over her girls’ heads: pose as wealthy Alex Sinclair’s love interest. Alex is a former football star who’s running for Congress, and dating a hometown girl like Lucy is just what he needs to improve his image.

The fake-engagement plot is nothing new, but author Jenny B. Jones keeps it fresh and adds other layers of story. Alex and Lucy sign a five-month agreement and plan to quietly “break up” after the election. She thinks he’s shallow and arrogant. He doesn’t want a long-term commitment this early in his career.

But Lucy begins to discover the good in Alex, and the approaching breakup adds to her stress. And stress there is. The girls’ home is saved, thanks to Alex’s money, but the girls still need care and Lucy’s on a crash course to learn enough about politics and high society to stand by “her” man in his campaign. Her mentor’s trying to re-make her, the paparazzi haunt her, and worst of all is the truth she learns about her father.

In the middle of high-society Charleston and US congressional politics (neither of which are big draws for this middle-class Canadian) Lucy is a delightful character. Spunky, quirky, and with a tendency to break something when she’s embarrassed, she’s unpretentious and fun. And she’s into Star Wars, Star Trek and Lord of the Rings. A bonus, for me.

She’s also a Christian, and her friends don’t think lying about a relationship with Alex is God’s way of providing for Saving Grace. But they stand by her, and she makes some surprising new friends along the way.

Save the Date is a heart-warming read complete with witty verbal sparring between Lucy and Alex. These two feel like real people and I genuinely cared about what would happen to them. There are some colourful support characters that add to the fun.

It’s also a novel that takes a serious look at insecurity and poor self-image. Jenny B. Jones is too good a writer to turn the novel into anything heavy-handed, but what Lucy and Alex learn, we can learn right along with them.

These deep insights are part of what I appreciate in her adult novels. Her previous one, Just Between You and Me, deals with fear, and I count it among the handful of life-changing fictional stories I’ve read. Based on that, as soon as I heard this new novel was in the works, I “saved the date,” and this book is every bit as good as the first.

Jenny B. Jones is best known for her young adults’ “Charmed Life” series, which are good fun for adults as well. She has a new young adult novel, There You’ll Find Me, coming out in October 2011. You can find Jenny at her website and her blog. (You may also want to see my review of Just Between You and Me.)

[Review copy from my personal library.]

Review: Just Between You and Me, a novel by Jenny B. Jones

Just Between You and Me, by Jenny B. Jones (Thomas Nelson, 2009)

Maggie Montgomery has done video shoots all over the world, but the one place she doesn’t want to be is Ivy, the town where she grew up.

Maggie’s a fairly new Christian, and she senses God has brought her home for a reason…but why?

Her father doesn’t want to see her, but he’s desperate for help with her unruly niece, Riley. Riley’s mom is mentally ill and hasn’t been able to care for her.

Maggie is smart, sassy, and she comes with a lot of emotional baggage. When she shows up in her home town, her high school friend Beth is the only person who remembers her who’s not toting a huge grudge. Maggie’s feisty enough to handle it, but I found myself getting defensive on her behalf.

Handsome veterinarian Connor Blake has some harsh, preconceived ideas about Maggie, but it doesn’t take long for him to understand her almost too well. Maggie thrives on keeping everyone at arms’ length—so why does being with Connor make her want to drop her defences?

Jenny B. Jones writes with a snappy sense of humour and tight delivery. This is one of those novels that works well in the present tense, first person. Present tense usually feels contrived to me, but the character of Maggie has such a strong voice that it feels like she’s really telling us what’s happening. Combined with the title of “Just Between You and Me,” it feels like Maggie’s telling the story one-on-one to a close friend.

Like the few others I’ve read in the Christian chick-lit genre, Just Between You and Me is not all surface and fluff. Maggie’s experience changes her life, and aspects of it—and the process of her learning—can shape readers as well. For all of her daredevil reputation, Maggie has a major fear issue when it comes to relationships—and to water, because she wasn’t able to save her drowning mother.

Just Between You and Me is fresh, funny and real—and the most feel-good book I’ve read in a long time. It’s actually one of maybe five novels or short fiction that I’d count as life-changing. An added benefit for me is the title: every time I thought about the novel, I’d hear the April Wine song.

You can read chapter one of Just Between You and Me or learn more about the author at the Jenny B. Jones website. The Thomas Nelson website has a reader discussion guide you might want to check out after you’ve read the novel. Just Between You and Me is aimed at adults, but Jenny is also the author of novels for young adults: the Katie Parker Production series and A Charmed Life series. YA novels are fun, and I look forward to checking these out.

[Review copy borrowed from my local public library. If you’re in Canada, you can get it via inter-library loan… or buy your own copy. It’s worth it!]