The Art of The Duology

Let’s start by defining duology. What does that even mean? It is basically a two-book series, a pairing of books. It’s not a widely popular series trend, but there are a few notable ones out there that I am spotlighting today.

Do you ever want to know what happens to your favorite characters at the end of a particularly amazing standalone novel? Well, this is kinda what’s so great about a duology. It’s not a full on series with a commitment to three or more books. Sometimes we just don’t have time for that.

But follow up to a beloved novel that give us the next chapter of the characters who won’t leave us? That is golden.

1. Kristy Cambron [The Hidden Masterpiece]

Umm, hello, remember this lady’s debut? Gorgeousness, please! I just love Kristy and her books so much and this is a great duology. For those of you who don’t know, these books were written with a dual timeline, one in present day and one set during WWII. The present day thread is what is carried through from book one to book two. But the characters from the WWII threads might have crossed paths briefly but are distinct from one another.

This is the most emotional duology of this bunch today.

The Butterfly and the Violin | A Sparrow in Terezin

2. Melissa Tagg [Where Love Begins]

As you all are well aware, I am not a huge contemporary reader (although, I have to say my taste in contemporary has changed quite a bit lately, for the better). However, MTagg is a favorite for me. I always know I can expect a story full of funny moments and piercing truths. She mixes all the good stuff together and BAM! you have a uniquely MTagg book. (And yes, I do refer to her as MTagg, it’s catchy).

And if you haven’t met Blake, who conveniently is the common thread in this duology, you are missing out. For reals.

Made to Last | Here to Stay

3. Lori Benton  [The Pathfinders]

This duology is epic in the depth of characters and exploration of how one decision made by one individual can change countless lives. Lori’s lyrical prose is beautiful to read as she tackles the way different cultures interact and grapples with their differences and their similarities.

If you like to read about colonial times, or like Laura Frantz, this author is for you! Lori writes about the intersection of culture and relationship, and it is fascinating.

Throw in some upheaval of incredible proportions (ahem, separating twins at birth), and you have quite the story before you.

The Wood’s Edge | A Flight of Arrows

 What is your experience with duologies? Have you ever read a particularly great one? Share below!

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Review: A Flight of Arrows by Lori Benton

A Flight of Arrows by Lori Benton
The Pathfinders, Book 2
WaterBrook, 2016

Lori Benton has written a masterpiece of a story. In her epic conclusion of The Pathfinders series, Lori explores brokenness, regret, pain, and forgiveness.

I was very pleased that this book started with scenes of Two Hawks and Anna together. I thought I might die if I had to wait very long to see them on the pages together, so I was quite happy it was at the onset of the book. Have I mentioned that they are my favorite characters and relationship in this book? Because THEY ARE. I just love them so much. They embody the true epitome of the forgiveness and relationship born out of the bad decision at the start of this series.

Really, each character’s journey is profound in its own way. Good Voice, Stone Thrower, and Two Hawks knowing they have a son and brother but always out of reach. Reginald wrought with guilt of a sin that has never left him. William in rebellion over his entire life being a lie. And Anna caught between it all and loving both families.

“Listen. I am telling you a thing you must understand and believe- that what you feel now is what your Father in Heaven feels for you, waiting and waiting for you to come back to Him, longing to run after you, to search you out. To show you a good path to walk.”

And friends. Chapter 44 and Stone Thrower broke my heart. In a million little pieces. Shattered. That’s all I will say, but wow.

This is a story of forgiveness, redemption, and love. It reveals how God can turn an ugly thing into something beautiful.

*I received this book in exchange for my honest review. I am on the author’s influencer team. All opinions are my own.*

Review: The Goodbye Bride by Denise Hunter

The first time I read the synopsis of this book, I was instantly intrigued. I knew I wanted to read this story and find out what happened to these characters. Imagine my surprise when it showed up in my mailbox (thank you Thomas Nelson)! I’m also loving this cover. It’s just so pretty and romantic and girly.

The Goodbye Bride by Denise Hunter
Summer Harbor, Book 2
Thomas Nelson, 2016

Lucy Lovett wakes up in a bathroom and is completely confused as to where she is and why. So she calls her fiancé, Zac Callahan. Only, he’s not her fiancé anymore. When she hit her head, she got amnesia and can’t remember the last seven months of her life. And with that tangle of a mess, the story begins.

I really loved the premise of this book and couldn’t wait to find out how Lucy would move forward with her life and if she would ever remember what happened to her. The set up was perfect, filled with emotion and confusion and tension. And Zac’s reaction to the whole situation was so complicated and felt true to his character.

Once the story was in its groove and things had somewhat settled, I do admit finding myself getting a bit antsy. I wanted to see things happen, and it took a little longer for the characters to figure things out and put life back into some semblance of normal.

But it did manage to pick up again, and I have to say the chemistry between Lucy and Zac is off the charts. I loved seeing them on the page together, whether it was filled with tension, emotional distance, or even the fleeting romantic moment.

I really enjoyed the flashbacks that were sprinkled into the story when they were happy and getting ready for their wedding. I liked seeing what their relationship was like before Lucy unexpectedly left Zac without an explanation. Nostalgic romantic bliss.

I’ve read a couple books by Denise Hunter, and I have to say this is probably my favorite one.

And I’m a sucker for stories about war heroes (ever since I read A Love Like Ours by Becky Wade), so now I’m interested in Denise’s next book, Just a Kiss, which will follow Riley Callahan, who is in the Marines.

With thanks to TNZ Fiction Guild for a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

Discussion: 3 Types of Series

I’ve been thinking lately, have you ever noticed the different kinds of book series out there? Because I was looking at my bookshelves recently, and I have realized there are three distinct series formats.

Type #1: The Standalone

This series is probably the least common, but it’s definitely out there. These are the ones where you can read any book in the series, doesn’t matter what order, and not be spoiled. Because the characters never reappear in the other books!  They are typically related only by the time period they are set in. Essentially, this is the series that comes without the commitment. If you don’t like the book for some reason, then you’re not really attached to the rest of the series. You can just be over it and move on.

How is this even a series really? I don’t really know but there are some good ones around. Books from Jody Hedlund (Michigan Brides) and Tricia Goyer (World War II Liberator) fit quite nicely into this category.

Type #2: The Connection

Next we have the series where each book is focused on a specific couple, but the supporting characters reappear as main characters in subsequent novels. They usually live in the same town and all the characters are either relatives or friends. This series is one I always enjoy because the characters will show up again and you get little glimpses into their lives after happily ever after while getting a whole new story with new people.

This is the most common series we see today, and Becky Wade (Porter Family) and Sarah Sundin (Wings of the Nightingale) are quite the experts at it.

Type #3: The Classic

What is the classic series, you ask? This is the one where you follow the main character through the entire series. It is typically written in first person, so you experience everything through their eyes and get to know that one character very well. You follow the arc of their growth and character development over three books.

I call this one the classic series because you are most involved and committed to this one. This is probably the hardest one to not finish because it is essentially one story told in three parts. How can you not finish the story? Don’t you want to know the final resolution?

Think Jessica Dotta (Price of Privilege) or Hillary Manton Lodge (Two Blue Doors).

Now that I’ve probably used the word ‘series’ way too many times in one post (I mean, the word is starting to lose its meaning), it’s your turn.

What kind of series do you prefer? What is one of your favorite series?

Review: Change of Heart by Courtney Walsh

Can I just start by saying how much I loved this book? This one is emotional and really had me feeling like I was able to step into the characters’ shoes. This is real life, people!

Change of Heart by Courtney Walsh
Paper Hearts, Book 2
Tyndale, 2016

In Change of Heart, Courtney Walsh tackles the difficult subject matter of divorce, betrayal, and the sense of being lost with a sensitivity and grace that was entirely refreshing and believable. It was painful to read and it hurt my heart to watch Evelyn and Trevor struggle through their world-shifting circumstances. But, it was SO GOOD!!

This book was all about discovering that your world is a façade that has shattered and then trying to figure out which parts were real. It was about the struggle of having to start over, and maybe not know who you are anymore because you lost yourself somewhere along the way. It was about picking up the pieces of that broken life and having to make the decision to get up every day and try putting it back together.

And it is a story about the ability to heal and forgive. It is about love. It is about accepting what God has given you, good and bad. It is about hope.

I pretty much enjoyed every aspect of this story, but there are a couple things I want to highlight about Evelyn and Trevor’s characters. Evelyn has this passion for art and creating beauty, and I loved seeing that passion cultivated within her again. And Trevor just has a heart of gold. I loved his generosity and his self-sacrificing kindness towards the girl he has always loved.

I don’t think I can say much more about this book. It’s not a light, happy book, so if that’s what you’re looking for, this isn’t quite it. But it is a deeply personal, heart wrenching, emotionally exhausting book. In the best way possible. And if you think you’re ready for that, please go pick it up. You’re going to love it.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.*