All In ~ Lone Star Book Blog Tours Review & Giveaway!

ALL IN
by
L.K. Simonds
Genre: Gritty Realistic / Christian Fiction
Publisher: Morgan James Publishing
Date of Publication: August 27, 2019
Number of Pages: 282

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A woman’s empty pursuit of happiness leads to a crisis before finding redemption in the Lord in this challenging and gritty Christian novel.

Twenty-nine-year-old novelist and blackjack dealer Cami Taylor seems to have it all—but just underneath her confident exterior and newfound celebrity is a young woman in trouble. Cami’s boyfriend, Joel, wants to get married, buy a house on Long Island, and raise a family—a life that’s a million miles from Cami’s idea of happiness. Her therapist suggests compromise and trust, but Cami would rather bolt like a deer.

Breaking things off with Joel, Cami launches herself on a new quest for happiness. But her pursuit of pleasure only takes her further from herself—and toward a harrowing new reality unlike anything she’s faced before. What follows for Cami is a fight to the death that can only be waged with God’s love.




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L.K. SIMONDS PRESENTS CAMI TAYLOR:



HALL WAYS REVIEW: It is a rare occasion when I know much about a book before I read it. With All In, I knew there was some controversy over the book being categorized as Christian fiction – gritty, realistic, Christian fiction. Who wouldn’t be interested in exploring that? With my interest piqued, I read the book description and just like the book’s title, I was all in.

“Manhattan lays out a daily smorgasbord of humanity. Old and young, rich and poor, bourgeois and Bolshevik…all together, they form a single living organism, a New York amoeba, shaping itself to the sidewalk container, shrinking from the overflowing wastebaskets and ubiquitous vendors.”

The strength of All Inis in the vivid descriptions of people and places. Author L.K. Simonds writes with panache; her use of figurative language and carefully selected word choices (she bussed his cheek) ensnare and hold captive the reader. Truly, Simonds’s sentences are some of the most well-written I’ve read in some time. The writing is cerebral, and sentences are heavy with meaning, each giving readers more insight into main character Cami’s mind and heart. But much is also said between the lines, and while the story is a page-turner, there is much to be gained by mindful reading.

“Jackie wasn’t just a dealer. She was a gambler too. Always laying it all on the line, hoping for the big payoff.”

The cover image of All In, which also piqued my interest, is highly representative of Cami’s life, but it’s nuanced. Sure, there is an obvious connection: Cami took a job as a blackjack dealer in a casino in order to research and accurately write Jackie, the main character of her bestselling book. But it goes much deeper than that. In writing Jackie, Leona Camille Lingo becomes author Cami Taylor – who lives vicariously through her character, Jackie.  Sound complicated? It is. Gambling is an apt metaphor for Cami Taylor’s life.

Readers need to be aware that All In is not a book about a struggling Christian finding God: Cami is not a believer. She is self-aware, pragmatic even, about her lack of faith and self-destructive behavior and doesn’t worry about her soul. Does she sin? Well, yeah. She is human, and humans, whether they call themselves Christian or not, are sinners. Readers know Cami’s is a redemption story, and despite the divine intervention of having Kate dropped into Cami’s life, it takes the whole book to get there (seriously - to the final twenty pages). Truly, the book’s structure itself reflects the never-too-late religious narrative.

Regardless of one’s personal beliefs, I recommend readers be open-minded and remember that we all worship differently. Admittedly, the Pentecostal way in which Cami finally accepts Jesus Christ as her savior is outside my comfort zone. And while I believe in Jesus’ power to heal, I struggled to suspend my disbelief with how Cami’s conversion ultimately unfolded, and I think this could have been written a little differently to not alienate some readers.

For me, it took effort to step back here and not let the ending negate from the experience of reading the book.  But step-back I did, and I am left with a book that I would easily recommend to others who can be non-judgmental about belief systems other than their own. The writing is stunning, the story is enthralling, and All In is a powerful, realistic story that gloriously builds to one life-changing, lifesaving, defining moment.

Thank you to the author and Lone Star Book Blog Tours for providing me a print copy in exchange for my honest opinion – the only kind I give. 






L. K. Simonds is a Fort Worth local. She has worked as a waitress, KFC hostess, telephone marketer, assembly-line worker, nanny, hospital lab technician, and air traffic controller. She's an instrument-rated pilot and an alumna of Christ for the Nations Institute in Dallas. All In is her first novel.
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-------------------------------------
GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!
ONE WINNER
Autographed, library-bound copy of All In
+ $50 Visa gift card
JANUARY 14-24, 2020
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