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Book Review, June 2022

Wow, is what I have to say about this book. It made me cry. It made me laugh, and it opened up international adoption like I'd never known.

Before I Called You Mine

by Nicole Deese

What it is:

It's a contemporary romance novel set in America about a single, primary teacher who wants to adopt a Chinese child. Only, mishaps, paperwork, logistics, and the untimely arrival of Mr. Perfect are complicating things. She can't marry and adopt at the same time (it's supposedly against Chinese law, or so the story says), so she has to decide which one she'll do.

What drew me to it:

Another author reviewed this book, and she loved it. So, I looked it up. It's written in first person, and that's what I write in. So, it's kinda of like research. (Can I use that excuse to feed my reading habits?) Adoption is also a topic that intrigues me.

What I liked about it:

It is in-depth, interesting, and immersive.

It's also personal. The author has gone through an international adoption (albeit as a family not single). You could tell she knew what she was talking about. She'd been there and lived it. However, she didn't trust in her own experience as sufficient research. She still went out and sought help looking into the laws and talking to others.

Mr. Perfect was just so nice and funny! Oh, and he loved dinosaurs; that was important to me as the mother of two dino-loving sons.

The girl was very relatable to me as someone who hates deciding and waiting.

What I didn't like about it:

Because she was relatable, she'd do things I hated reading because they stepped all over my toes, thank you very much.

There were two mentions of alcohol. Once in jest and another as matter of fact consumption with a meal.

She made me cry... and cry. But then I also loved the story for making me cry, so go figure that out if you can. The female brain is an interesting place.

In Summary:

Excellent writing. Witty, fun, interesting characters. An immersive story with a clear, Christian lesson we can implement. FYI, make sure you read the author's note at the end. It's worth reading.

Alternate Books:

Did "Before I called You Mine" not tickle your fancy, or you've already read it? Try these other books I've read recently:

Things We Didn't Say by Amy Lynn Green. A WW2 general fiction novel comprised entirely of letters, news articles and various other communications. I have no idea how Amy made such a gripping story out of correspondence, but it was awesome. I loved the hidden nuggets of wisdom. The pastor wrote about grace (we often want people to deserve grace, but that isn't how it works) and the heroine's sponsor encouraged her to chase the better dream instead of the bigger dream.

Love, Tears, and Autism (Revised and Updated-2nd edition) by Cecily Paterson - An Australian mother's journey from heartbreak to hope. It's both an autobiography of her experience and some resources parents might find useful. Chapter 15 "Angry and bitter on the couch" was my favourite. Chapter 17 "Dealing with the aftermath" was very interesting too. I don't know that I agreed with everything she said, but I enjoyed reading her story.

Home on the Range & Peace in the Valley by Ruth Logan Herne - both contemporary, cowboy romances (Books 2 and 3 of the Double S Ranch Series. I mentioned book 1 in my previous book review)

Xavier in the Meantime by Kate Gordon - general market children's fiction. This is the sequel to Aster's Good, Right Thing. Xavier struggles with depression. I found this useful for understanding depression a bit more, but it is general market not Christian.

Grace in Deep Waters by Christine Dillon - contemporary women's fiction. William's story was a huge blessing. I had to skip the second half of Blanche's story because it was too distracting from the spiritual lessons in William's. It was a good read though.

Yours is the Night by Amanda Dykes - a historical romance. Not my favourite of hers. I really disliked the first two chapters, but the rest was good. She writes a good book, and historical fiction in first person is very rare!

Disillusioned by Christy Barritt - a contemporary suspense

Autumn by the Sea by Melissa Tagg - a contemporary romance

The Annotated Northanger Abby - Jane Austen and David M. Shapard. A fantastic research resource, but I recommend the physical book over the ebook.

Grandma's Treasured Shoes by Coral Vass - a children's picture book. A great story and resource for explaining refugees to your toddler/pre-schooler. The Hammering of the Inhabitancy: Of Brothers and Strangers by Donna Fletcher Crow - dual time fiction

Dusk's Darkest Shores by Carolyn Miller - historical romance. The start talked too much about miracles and laying on of hands for my tastes, but I liked the story between the couple and the talks about why God choose not to heal.

Christian Writers Market Guide - 2022 by Steve Laube - a comprehensive writer's resource to the market from editors, agents, publishers, competitions, and writer's groups.

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