Belonging, Book Review, Books, Christian Marriage, Christian Writer, Faith, Forgiveness, God's faithfulness, Healing, Lessons from life, Seasons of life, Thankfulness

BOOK REVIEW: ALL SAINTS? BY ELLIE CARTER

I love reading new books by new writers, who like me have been brave enough to put their writing out there. Which is a very scary thing, believe me. I especially love books that are very definitely inspired by God, with a great faith message, that is lightly handled and wrapped up within a gripping fictional tale.

All Saints? Is one of those books and I am very happy to recommend it. I’ve seen it described as Christian chick lit, but I wouldn’t label it such, as it is such a good observation of everyday life, that I think it would appeal more widely. If you have ever been involved with church, if you have ever had to deal with real life challenges and heartbreak, if you are a man or woman with questions about faith, then you will find things to relate to in this book.

Clever Title

All Saints?’ is a clever title. It refers to the Parish Church that sits at the centre of the tale, but as the story also follows three Christian women connected to the church, it explores just how saintly each really is. Of course the Bible might describe all believers as ‘saints’, but how we live out our lives is often far from deserving of the title, and that is normal! Sophie is the church minister’s wife, juggling handling a difficult adopted toddler and also trying to support her husband in his role, whilst being a good friend to the others. She also has deep wounds related to her struggle with infertility that resurface when her friend Hayley announces that she and her husband are also unlikely to be able to conceive naturally. Hayley is desperately unhappy and makes a decision that has devastating effects for all of them.  Lucy is single, and feeling bypassed, calling out to God for a man to love her. It seems God has answered her prayers. Her journey is heart-breaking.

Raw and real, and relatable

All Saints? is raw and real in places, shocking even, but it is also heart-warming, as the bonds of friendship, and the love of God, see these three friends, their partners and families work through their issues together. That it is set around a church, works brilliantly.  For anyone like myself, who has grown up immersed in church life, the different (odd) people that make up the congregation, the funny little incidents, the frustrations and the joys are all so recognisable. The green cup/blue cup mix up made me laugh – I’ve seen something very similar happen myself, and can even picture those ‘church’ cups and saucers. The open day where half the village come because it’s free – and none of them actually then come to church as a result, had echoes of many ‘failed’ outreaches I’ve been part of. The rich parishioners who think they should run everything, including the minister, but would rather raise money selling jam than donate money themselves to repair the pot-holed driveway, also made me smile knowingly.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book, reading it in a couple of days, and becoming quite invested in all of the main characters. It does cut quite close to home at times, but also talks about faith matters in a gentle and non threatening way.

Well done Ellie Carter on your debut!

*Romans 1:7

Ellie Carter has walked the path of infertility. She and her husband are now blessed with two adopted children. If you would like a personally signed copy of All Saints? please bless the author by contacting her direct at elliecarterauthor@gmail.com.

She is offering the book at a discounted price of £7.00, including postage, to anyone who contacts her as a result of this post.

All Saints? was published by Instant Apostle on 19 June 2020, ISBN 1912726211, RRP £8.99

Books, CHOOSING HOPE, Christian Marriage, Christian Writer, Faith, Lessons from life, New Author, Uncategorized

A PERFECT MARRIAGE?

Two weeks ago my hubby and I celebrated our wedding anniversary. I say ‘celebrated’ – the celebrations included a short drive out to a local beauty spot, and a home- cooked steak dinner! Which suited us fine. Neither of us do big gestures, but it was good to mark the day and especially look back and thank God for our marriage, and His faithfulness to us over the years. Is ours a perfect marriage? Well after 29 years it must be pretty good, right? It is! But it is not perfect; it never has been and probably never will be. There have been times when it has been a fight, and times when it has been a joy. But we made vows to one another and before God, and by His grace, we are still here, and still one, and still loving each other.

This week I have also had the joy of reading a new book, ‘Grace-Filled Marriage’, by Claire and Steve Musters. I agreed to be part of their launch team, not entirely sure what I had signed up for! But I have been privileged to be able to read a pre-publication copy of this amazingly insightful and helpful book. I have devoured it. Perhaps having been married a good many years, it seems strange to be reading a book on marriage, but the truth is that we still make mistakes, we still unintentionally hurt one another, and we still need grace – buckets full of it.  I also found it a challenging read. It is heart- breakingly honest in places, and disturbingly convicting in others.

Grace Filled Marriage’ is a perfect marriage in my humble opinion. It brings together great scripturally based wisdom and advice, and marries it seamlessly with compelling real- life stories. I found these little snapshots into other people’s marriage struggles particularly helpful, not least the authors’ own candid revelations of their own troubled marriage journey. It is a brave thing to do, to let God use your own ‘warts and all’ story to bring hope to others. And I think that is what Claire and Steve have done. You know that they know what they are talking about. You can trust they have ‘been there, done that’, and come through it all with a stronger, more loving, more God- honouring marriage  -because of His redemptive grace and their willingness to fight. I pray God will honour them for that vulnerability.

The book is 12 chapters long, each tackling one area of marriage where we need to exercise God- given grace with each other. They cover such subjects as complacency, forgiveness, conflict, and championing one another. Each chapter contains at least one story from a real life marriage, and ends with a few thoughtful and helpful questions to ask ourselves. As well as being a great read for individuals, it is potentially a great resource – for couples considering marriage, for newly-weds, for all marrieds wanting to be better at it, or for small study groups.

As I said, we don’t have a perfect marriage, and I don’t actually think God expects us to have perfect marriages – we’re not perfect people after all. But in the same way as He is working in us, and changing us as individuals, from glory to glory[1], to becoming more a reflection of Him, the only perfect one, so I believe He also wants our marriages to get better and better, with His help. I read this book alone, although there were times when I paused to share some particular nugget of wisdom, or challenging thought, with hubby. As a couple, many of the things the book deals with we have already learnt, the hard way sometimes, in our nearly 30 years of marriage. But we can still learn more, so we have decided to go through the book again together, slowly and prayerfully, and see how we could be doing better. And by God’s grace we will.

Grace Filled Marriage by Claire and Steve Musters is published today, 7th May 2021, by Authentic Media, RRP £9.99. It is available via all the usual bookselling outlets but you can bless Claire and Steve particularly by purchasing a copy direct at


[1] 2 Corinthians 3:18