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The Words Between Us

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Robin Windsor has spent most of her life under an assumed name, running from her family's ignominious past. She thought she'd finally found sanctuary in her rather unremarkable used bookstore just up the street from the marina in River City, Michigan. But the store is struggling and the past is hot on her heels. When she receives an eerily familiar book in the m Robin Windsor has spent most of her life under an assumed name, running from her family's ignominious past. She thought she'd finally found sanctuary in her rather unremarkable used bookstore just up the street from the marina in River City, Michigan. But the store is struggling and the past is hot on her heels. When she receives an eerily familiar book in the mail on the morning of her father's scheduled execution, Robin is thrown back to the long-lost summer she met Peter Flynt, the perfect boy who ruined everything. That book--a first edition Catcher in the Rye--is soon followed by the other books she shared with Peter nearly twenty years ago, with one arriving in the mail each day. But why would Peter be making contact after all these years? And why does she have a sinking feeling that she's about to be exposed all over again? With evocative prose that recalls the classic novels we love, Erin Bartels pens a story that shows that words--the ones we say, the ones we read, and the ones we write--have more power than we imagine.


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Robin Windsor has spent most of her life under an assumed name, running from her family's ignominious past. She thought she'd finally found sanctuary in her rather unremarkable used bookstore just up the street from the marina in River City, Michigan. But the store is struggling and the past is hot on her heels. When she receives an eerily familiar book in the m Robin Windsor has spent most of her life under an assumed name, running from her family's ignominious past. She thought she'd finally found sanctuary in her rather unremarkable used bookstore just up the street from the marina in River City, Michigan. But the store is struggling and the past is hot on her heels. When she receives an eerily familiar book in the mail on the morning of her father's scheduled execution, Robin is thrown back to the long-lost summer she met Peter Flynt, the perfect boy who ruined everything. That book--a first edition Catcher in the Rye--is soon followed by the other books she shared with Peter nearly twenty years ago, with one arriving in the mail each day. But why would Peter be making contact after all these years? And why does she have a sinking feeling that she's about to be exposed all over again? With evocative prose that recalls the classic novels we love, Erin Bartels pens a story that shows that words--the ones we say, the ones we read, and the ones we write--have more power than we imagine.

30 review for The Words Between Us

  1. 4 out of 5

    Nilufer Ozmekik

    FOUR in the name of love for the living souls of dead poet society and for my oh captain , dear captain, our fearful journey is about to begin because I loved this lyrical, romantic, unforgettable 20 years long love story’s rekindling by borrowed books and paid poems STARS! I could give five stars to this book. You ask me why, I tell you the listed reasons. But I must emphasize neither author nor publishers sent me boxes of Chardonnay and Sprinkle cupcakes to like this book. (I could FOUR in the name of love for the living souls of dead poet society and for my oh captain , dear captain, our fearful journey is about to begin because I loved this lyrical, romantic, unforgettable 20 years long love story’s rekindling by borrowed books and paid poems STARS! I could give five stars to this book. You ask me why, I tell you the listed reasons. But I must emphasize neither author nor publishers sent me boxes of Chardonnay and Sprinkle cupcakes to like this book. (I could honestly say my vices never overshadow my judgment! Maybe just a little bit! Okay, half of it!) There are so many reasons to like each word, every page and the whole amazingly, wholeheartedly, intensely, remarkably formed and developed story. Here are my reasons: -THIS BOOK IS ABOUT BOOKS: I felt like I was playing with Matryoshka dolls, (another doll decreasing size placed one inside the other.) when I see books inside books theme and caught pieces from “Catching in the Rye” (I hate Holden, too, which is my common point with the heroine) , “Dickinson Poems”, “From Whom the Bell Tolls”, “Great Gatsby”, “Moby Dick”, “Wuthering Heights”. I knew most of the book choices were the popular classics but they were still the best way to form friendship between young Robin and Peter. Both of them are wounded souls and hurt by their own parents. Robin was betrayed by her parents who were in jail and waiting for their murder trails, sent to live with her grandmother she hadn’t met before. She was keeping her identity as secret by telling her school friends lies about her past life and her parents. The only person she was honest with Peter, she recently met at the graveyard close to her place she lived. Peter also lost her mother from aneurysm lately, dealing with grieving father’s issues, left her mom’s favorite poem book at her grave when Robin and he bumped into each other. Robin borrowed the book he left and Peter kept bringing her more books in exchange of her beautiful poems. -LOTS OF BEAUTIFUL POEMS WALTZED IN MY MIND AND TOOK ME OVER TO THE MOON: I loved the poems Robin put inside the books which turned her back after 20 years and reminded her of her old self and creative mind. -GOING BACK AND FORTH BETWEEN PAST AND PRESENT INTRIGUES YOU TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED TO THIS AMAZING COUPLE! This reason also gave me chills because I was expecting something irrational as I learned more about Robin and Peter’s characteristic attributes. I knew Robin was only 15, living big traumas in her life but her insistence to push Peter away and her stubbornness not to understand he was the only one she can open her heart and mind without thinking a second made me so furious! Peter was kind, patient, caring, sweet and deeply felt for her. So I felt like she was about to sabotage the great thing they had together. -BIG FAMILY SECRET: This part could be thought as unnecessary because the book had already great plot centered around the dull, sad, lonely life of Robin who was about to lose her bookstore and vivid supporting characters who helped her voluntarily to save her store. But to understand the wrongdoings and emotional turmoil of Robin who incessantly punished herself for the misdemeanors of her own family, we needed to learn their secret history. REASON TO CUT MY POINT: ROBIN! ROBIN! ROBIN! AND ROBIN WHO IS THE WINNER OF UNLIKABLE HEROINE CONTEST: I understand she was so young and had hard times to listen and trust the people. But after 20 years she didn’t evolve, improve herself a little bit. She was still judgmental, stubborn and at some parts dumb! Sometimes I wanted to yell her to get her head out of her ass and embrace the life. It was tormenting to see her made her life miserable and made her loved ones suffer, too. Ending was good, I was about to give a few slaps to Robin if she stayed obnoxious and acted like a relentless cow but thankfully she made right choices so I didn’t need to cut more points from this amazingly written book. As a summary: I’m happy, satisfied! Great writing, great story, the heroine who deserves my slaps and lovely hero! Thanks to Netgalley and Fleming H. Revell Company to share this amazing ARC COPY with me in exchange my honest review! I loved it!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Barbara White

    THE WORDS BETWEEN US is one of the most beautiful novels I've read, one in which every sentence carries power. Robin is a feisty young teen, a reader and a poet, who grows into a woman determined to defy a legacy of scandal and tragedy as she attempts to forge her own path in life and love. Told through a dual timeline, the plot keeps its secrets until the final pages. With sweeping themes about the power of language and the search for salvation, this is a book to savor and share.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mary Jackson _TheMaryReader

    Let's start with the obvious, this cover is gorgeous. Now let's talk about the story inside this wonderful cover. Where do I start it's a quick read and a fun romantic read. A used book store, books and more books. Oh to be an owner of a book store. This story seemed so real and the characters like real friends. The book references were so much fun. I loved the mention of so many great classics of books that I have enjoyed over the years. Bartals has a 5 star book in The Words Bet Let's start with the obvious, this cover is gorgeous. Now let's talk about the story inside this wonderful cover. Where do I start it's a quick read and a fun romantic read. A used book store, books and more books. Oh to be an owner of a book store. This story seemed so real and the characters like real friends. The book references were so much fun. I loved the mention of so many great classics of books that I have enjoyed over the years. Bartals has a 5 star book in The Words Between Us that everyone bookworm will enjoy. The Mary Reader received this book from the publisher for review. A favorable review was not required and all views expressed are our own.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Shawn Smucker

    Erin Bartels has created a story that feels more like a memory, something I lived, than a piece of fiction. If you are the kind of person who finds meaning and life in the written word, then you'll find yourself hidden among these pages.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    I hardly know where to start with this review. The book is so beautifully written that I can't really convey my feelings about it except to tell you that this is a MUST READ! I finished reading this book over a week ago and I am still thinking about it - to the point that I haven't been able to start another book. It's been a long time since I've had that kind of book hangover. Robin is a teenager at the beginning of this book who is sent to live with her grandmother due to a scandal I hardly know where to start with this review. The book is so beautifully written that I can't really convey my feelings about it except to tell you that this is a MUST READ! I finished reading this book over a week ago and I am still thinking about it - to the point that I haven't been able to start another book. It's been a long time since I've had that kind of book hangover. Robin is a teenager at the beginning of this book who is sent to live with her grandmother due to a scandal that happened in her family. She changes her identity and tries to become a new person so people won't judge her by her parents. But even though she wants to present a new person to the world, her thoughts and her inner peace are still tied to her old life. She meets Peter at the cemetery before school starts and he interests her until she finds out that he is the football hero, prom king jock in the senior class at the high school. Their friendship thrives though the books that they begin to share their secrets with each other. I absolutely loved the world that Erin Bartels created in this novel. There are wonderful book references and her love of books is apparent throughout. Most of all, I loved the characters and the emotions that this novel and these characters gave me throughout the book. Thanks to the publisher for a copy of this book to read and review. All opinions are my own.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jypsy

    Thank you to Revell and the author for an advanced copy. All opinions expressed are my own. The Words Between Us By: Erin Bartels *REVIEW* 📚📚📚📚 The Words Between Us is first and foremost a book about books. It's a bookworm's dream. There are so many references to classic literature and poetry, and I adored all of them. The main character, Robin, has had a difficult life because of her parents and their actions. Since the age of 14, she has essentially been hiding. She hides from reality ins Thank you to Revell and the author for an advanced copy. All opinions expressed are my own. The Words Between Us By: Erin Bartels *REVIEW* 📚📚📚📚 The Words Between Us is first and foremost a book about books. It's a bookworm's dream. There are so many references to classic literature and poetry, and I adored all of them. The main character, Robin, has had a difficult life because of her parents and their actions. Since the age of 14, she has essentially been hiding. She hides from reality inside of books, so it makes sense that 20 years later, Robin owns a bookstore. Incidents begin to happen that bring a part of her past back to her. Will she remain always stuck in the tragedy of her childhood, or will she move forward and embrace this new something in her life? This is a lyrical beautiful story that's perfect for book lovers everywhere.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

    Vividly drawn and told in expertly woven dual timelines, THE WORDS BETWEEN US is a story about a woman who has spent years trying to escape her family’s scandals and the resilience she develops along the way. Erin Bartels’s characters are a treat: complex, dynamic, and so lifelike I half-expected them to climb straight out of the pages.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews

    Books, books, books, and one bookworm. Well, quite a few bookworms and one from Robin's past. Hiding since she was fourteen from a scandal that her jailed parents were involved in caused Robin to have no confidence and become a recluse. We get a glimpse into Robin‘s life as a child before the scandal as well as present day. Because of this scandal Robin had to live with her grandmother in another state where she met Peter who loved books too and shared books with her. They Books, books, books, and one bookworm. Well, quite a few bookworms and one from Robin's past. Hiding since she was fourteen from a scandal that her jailed parents were involved in caused Robin to have no confidence and become a recluse. We get a glimpse into Robin‘s life as a child before the scandal as well as present day. Because of this scandal Robin had to live with her grandmother in another state where she met Peter who loved books too and shared books with her. They became good friends until an incident that caused them to never see each again. Peter had been out of touch for years, but all of a sudden the books they shared as children started showing up in her mailbox at her book store from different states. Meanwhile Robin’s book store was in jeopardy because she didn't have any customers. Robin was sweet and will pull you into her life, her situation, and her love of books. If you also enjoy mysteries, THE WORDS BETWEEN US will appeal to you because added to Robin’s dilemmas in her life was a secret her grandmother supposedly had and that Robin never knew about. THE WORDS BETWEEN US will resound with book lovers simply because of that gorgeous cover, the title, and of course the story line. The reader will again be treated to Ms. Bartel’s wonderful storytelling skills. 4/5 This book was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Danielle Urban

    The Words Between Us by Erin Bartels is a deep, thought provoking story. The themes are powerfully explored here.  Courage, family, and love thrived. The main protagonist had a lot on her plate. Her father being jailed for horrendous crimes and later executed. The emotional battle for the young woman was difficult. But she kept going. Her life is renewed yet the past of her family's secrets still crush her. Too much weight, and then life sends a way of cracking that. Opening up wounds that never The Words Between Us by Erin Bartels is a deep, thought provoking story. The themes are powerfully explored here.  Courage, family, and love thrived. The main protagonist had a lot on her plate. Her father being jailed for horrendous crimes and later executed. The emotional battle for the young woman was difficult. But she kept going. Her life is renewed yet the past of her family's secrets still crush her. Too much weight, and then life sends a way of cracking that. Opening up wounds that never healed, the protagonist had one of the toughest journeys I've read. It was believable every step of the way. Robin held my sympathy from the start. Erin Bartels created a story that dug into my heart. I couldn't let go of the characters. Even after the last page was read, they were still stuck in my head. Their stories were that good.  I received this copy from the publisher. This is my voluntary review.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Alyssa Fabik

    Wow!! What a book! An advanced read copy from the publisher. It had five star rating and I was a skeptic but it was amazing!! I would highly recommend this book!! It was humorous, romantic, tragic and more all in one. Plus I read it in 9 days with a crazy schedule not made for reading.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Better Read than Dead

    Sooooo cute. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time, just dying to see what happened. It had a kind of hallmark movie feel to it. It was interesting, there were twists and cliff hangers, with a happy feel good ending. The characters were depicted really well and it was super interesting to see them grow up over the course of the chapters. Sometimes novels that switch back and forth between the past and the present can feel choppy or messy, but not this one! It set up the climax really Sooooo cute. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time, just dying to see what happened. It had a kind of hallmark movie feel to it. It was interesting, there were twists and cliff hangers, with a happy feel good ending. The characters were depicted really well and it was super interesting to see them grow up over the course of the chapters. Sometimes novels that switch back and forth between the past and the present can feel choppy or messy, but not this one! It set up the climax really well, and described backstory without the modern character just telling us. I would love love love to see this become a movie, and I would be even more excited for a sequel.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    Loved this book! Just finished the ARC & highly recommend it to book lovers and anyone else who loves a good story...beautifully written.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jen. (JenGalaxy4 Christian Book Reviews)

    . . Unputdownable! ( It’s a real word! I Googled it! LOL ) The Words Between Us was so not the story I was expecting. No worries – this is totally a good thing! Erin Bartels is a fantastic storyteller! The Words Between Us is a timeslip novel, with Robin as the main character across both timelines. It’s told in the first person point of view, making this an engrossing read. Robin shares her struggles and insecurities as a teenager whose world has been completely flipped up/>The . . Unputdownable! ( It’s a real word! I Googled it! LOL ) The Words Between Us was so not the story I was expecting. No worries – this is totally a good thing! Erin Bartels is a fantastic storyteller! The Words Between Us is a timeslip novel, with Robin as the main character across both timelines. It’s told in the first person point of view, making this an engrossing read. Robin shares her struggles and insecurities as a teenager whose world has been completely flipped upside down, and then as the adult she ultimately becomes. There’s so much I could say about this masterfully crafted story. So, how do I review this book without giving spoilers? I can’t. This is one you’ll need to experience for yourself! The Words Between Us is available NOW – visit www.christianbook.com for details! I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell as part of the Revell Reads Blog Tour program. A positive review was not required. All opinions expressed are completely my own.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Heidi Robbins (Heidi Reads...)

    Wow. This book is so well-written. I was captivated from the beginning and didn't put it down until I finished it- the blessing of having half a Saturday free! It was fascinating to see Robin's point of view as a 14 year old and present day adult, her misguided perceptions and the fallout over years from the traumatic events that changed and shaped her life. I appreciated that the alternating then and now format didn't feel like flashbacks, but rather two very connected stories told simultaneous Wow. This book is so well-written. I was captivated from the beginning and didn't put it down until I finished it- the blessing of having half a Saturday free! It was fascinating to see Robin's point of view as a 14 year old and present day adult, her misguided perceptions and the fallout over years from the traumatic events that changed and shaped her life. I appreciated that the alternating then and now format didn't feel like flashbacks, but rather two very connected stories told simultaneously. The details unfold and are revealed throughout the story and feel natural rather than strategic. The relationships in Robin's life are few, but each are valuable and significant. I loved discovering what came next for Robin, her indomitable spirit in the midst of her well-founded fears, and the way she comes to recognize her own growth and experience the sweetness of forgiveness. Highly recommend!!! (I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions in this review are my own)

  15. 5 out of 5

    Monica

    I confess I am a sucker for a beautiful cover and this one grabbed me right away. However, Erin Bartels' new novel, The Words Between Us, is every bit as fascinating as the cover. Robin Windsor has been trying to escape the association between her and her infamous parents ever since they were incarcerated. At that time, she was sent to live with a grandmother under an assumed name through a program to protect her and keep her safe while her high profile parents were tried and co I confess I am a sucker for a beautiful cover and this one grabbed me right away. However, Erin Bartels' new novel, The Words Between Us, is every bit as fascinating as the cover. Robin Windsor has been trying to escape the association between her and her infamous parents ever since they were incarcerated. At that time, she was sent to live with a grandmother under an assumed name through a program to protect her and keep her safe while her high profile parents were tried and convicted. She met Peter Flynt while she lived there. Peter and Robin read through the classics together--until things fall apart and Robin starts running again. However, her love of books continued to keep her grounded and feeling safe, which is why she opened her own bookstore. She feels safe until the morning of her father's scheduled execution when she receives a book from Peter in the mail. What does it mean? I felt like I was living in The Words Between Us right along with Robin. There is an easy rhythm between Then and Now as she goes back and forth between her teenage years and her adult life she is currently living. I kept turning pages and read this book quickly to find out what happened. I especially liked the themes of forgiveness and conquering fears, which I think many people could relate to. I also thought it was especially fun that Bartels had a parrot be a key character in this book since I have a parakeet. There were also some surprises at the end that I didn't expect. I found the book to be a different and refreshing novel in the Christian market today. I highly recommend The Words Between Us as an individual read, but I also think it would make for some great book club discussions. I received this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a review. All opinions are my own.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Create With Joy

    I wasn’t sure what I would find when I picked up The Words Between Us by Erin Bartels, but what I discovered was a beautifully written, evocatively told story about a young woman named Robin Windsor who is trying to escape from the sins of her monstrous father and the pain of her past. She’s built a new life for herself, living under an assumed name and working in a used bookstore – but when she begins to receive a series of books in the mail – books that she shared as a teen with a b I wasn’t sure what I would find when I picked up The Words Between Us by Erin Bartels, but what I discovered was a beautifully written, evocatively told story about a young woman named Robin Windsor who is trying to escape from the sins of her monstrous father and the pain of her past. She’s built a new life for herself, living under an assumed name and working in a used bookstore – but when she begins to receive a series of books in the mail – books that she shared as a teen with a boy named Peter Flynt who she thought was “perfect” until he ruined her life – she fears her past has caught up with her and her secret may soon be revealed. Although Erin Bartels drew me into The Words Between Us from the start with her suspenseful plot, what stands out to me about this book is how masterfully Erin interweaves this story with literary-like prose, dual timelines, and characters you’ll be thinking about long after you finish the book. If you love literary classics and marvel at the power of both the written and the spoken word, you’ll savor every moment of The Words Between Us. This review was originally published at The Book Nook at Create With Joy. Please join us and share your family-friendly book reviews!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Staci

    The cover is simply gorgeous. One of my favorites of the year. In Erin Bartel's sophomore novel, she shows her versatility. While The Words Between Us has multiple timelines like her debut, the story line is rather different. Readers get to know main character Robin in both the present day thread and the one from about 20 years prior when her dad went to prison. The opening drew me in quickly. I loved the high school age banter between Robin and Peter and the sweet developm The cover is simply gorgeous. One of my favorites of the year. In Erin Bartel's sophomore novel, she shows her versatility. While The Words Between Us has multiple timelines like her debut, the story line is rather different. Readers get to know main character Robin in both the present day thread and the one from about 20 years prior when her dad went to prison. The opening drew me in quickly. I loved the high school age banter between Robin and Peter and the sweet development of their friendship. The way that novels and authors helped paint their story was superb. The project in the current day story wasn't that engaging for me and the ending wasn't as powerful as I'd hoped. Overall, it's a well written novel about coming of age and the harm caused by leaping to conclusions. I look forward to what this author will offer next. My gratitude to publisher Revell for a complimentary NetGalley copy of the novel. I was not required to post a review and all opinions expressed are my own.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Olivia

    *This book was provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group through Interviews & Reviews.* I expected a deep thread of beauty of this book, and received much more than an emotional story. This story is filled with human nature—the good and bad of people—but both is shown in a way that makes you understand the choices through the years. The mystery aspect was especially intriguing. Robin's pain and hurt was written so well, pulling me into how she felt. We've all been hur *This book was provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group through Interviews & Reviews.* I expected a deep thread of beauty of this book, and received much more than an emotional story. This story is filled with human nature—the good and bad of people—but both is shown in a way that makes you understand the choices through the years. The mystery aspect was especially intriguing. Robin's pain and hurt was written so well, pulling me into how she felt. We've all been hurt by something or someone in our lives, but God has such bigger and better plans for us. The spiritual thread was woven someone quietly through the book, but I enjoyed how it was brought forth. The romance was sweet and sad and like the ending, a good mix of everything. Overall, a book I'd recommend and I'm excited to see more books by this author in the future!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Susan K

    Clean read, while romantic elements, more of a mystery This one sticks with you. I am still rolling around the words, the situations, the novels, the back and forth between past and present, and the people. Robin's story, mixed between her past and present, the many elements that made her who she is, and have held her 'captive' in her present, her struggles, her hopes, her heart, this all was so aptly portrayed and her present became something where she could work through her past, and have Clean read, while romantic elements, more of a mystery This one sticks with you. I am still rolling around the words, the situations, the novels, the back and forth between past and present, and the people. Robin's story, mixed between her past and present, the many elements that made her who she is, and have held her 'captive' in her present, her struggles, her hopes, her heart, this all was so aptly portrayed and her present became something where she could work through her past, and have hope for her future. She gave so much of herself, all the while struggling to come to terms with her past. Her written words, describing her pain and her heart, her trust and hope and love of Peter, her kindnesses in the future, her wonder her joy, just so gorgeous. So many myriad elements coming together to heal her heart and help her build her heart home with Peter. I loved the book mailings, and her wonder at trying to figure it all out, and wonder what he was hoping for them. I love finding a new author that will make my head work around the words and stories they tell. I can tell this will be a favorite read of mine and will be re-read. My only criticism, is just wanted to see more of Peter in the last little bit of the story. He was so present in her past, and would have wanted just a little more in the present to paint her heart in after the myriad threads pulled together. I loved all the side characters and the settings. I received a copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are my own.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Brittany

    The Words Between Us was a very interesting story, and one that is different than the books that I usually gravitate to. The cover drew me in and the book blurb made me want to give this novel a try. I liked the way the book spent time in both the present and the past. And although I liked this approach and the way events slowly played out as I read, sometimes it dragged a bit for me. I still enjoyed uncovering what exactly had happened in Robin’s life. The Words Between Us The Words Between Us was a very interesting story, and one that is different than the books that I usually gravitate to. The cover drew me in and the book blurb made me want to give this novel a try. I liked the way the book spent time in both the present and the past. And although I liked this approach and the way events slowly played out as I read, sometimes it dragged a bit for me. I still enjoyed uncovering what exactly had happened in Robin’s life. The Words Between Us referenced classic literature, most of which I read in high school, and tied it into the story in a seamless way. In fact, this novel left me with a similar feeling as many of the stories that were referred to did when I read them. The ending felt satisfying to me, however it was abrupt, and I honestly would have enjoyed a few more chapters to wrap things up a bit more. But, overall, this was a story that moved me. Although published as a Christian fiction story, the faith element was very subtle. This book will probably be well received in the general market. I received a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions are my own. You can read this review on my blog: https://brittreadsfiction.wordpress.c...

  21. 5 out of 5

    Dave

    It is said that truth is stranger than fiction. And yet, I've read many fictional stories that fly beyond what is realistic and believable from a human emotion capacity. There is a nebulous space between truth and fiction that balances the two in a believable yet compelling way. This novel is a rare example of that delicate equilibrium. The characters in this story couldn't be more authentic. They're messy, passionate, and emotional. They're real. Robin, Sarah, Peter, Dawt Pi... every It is said that truth is stranger than fiction. And yet, I've read many fictional stories that fly beyond what is realistic and believable from a human emotion capacity. There is a nebulous space between truth and fiction that balances the two in a believable yet compelling way. This novel is a rare example of that delicate equilibrium. The characters in this story couldn't be more authentic. They're messy, passionate, and emotional. They're real. Robin, Sarah, Peter, Dawt Pi... everyone is reflective of someone you might walk by going about your daily routine. Each has their challenges to face. And the way Ms. Bartels tangles those challenges between them provides invaluable insights, for both the characters and the reader. I'm admittedly not much of a poetry person from a reader standpoint. It is difficult for me to immerse myself into the emotion of the intricate language sometimes used. But I learned something about myself over the course of this novel. While it might be cliche, patience truly is a virtue. In today's world, it's easy to get caught up in the immediacy of everyday activities, forgetting to inhale and exhale-not physically, but instead, mentally and emotionally. The poems included within this text spoke to me, because I had the patience and investment in Robin's character to fully understand the emotion contained between and inside each word. And that's a beautiful thing. I have always believed that words have an innate ability to influence. And after reading this story, I realize there are so many varied dimensions to that statement. Spoken. Written. And even those that are simply thoughts inside our head. They each have the power to change a small piece of us, and maybe something even bigger. "The Words Between Us" was a true pleasure to read, as much for the story as the exquisitely beautiful and authentic prose used to share it. Often indecisive about what my next read will be, there is no doubt I'll be picking up Erin Bartel's debut novel next, a testament for her ability to capture this reader's emotional attention and never let go.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Nora St Laurent

    I was hooked from the first sentence, “Most people only die once. But my father is not must people. He is a monster.” I instantly cared for Robin Windsor and her situation, as the novel starts out in current time with Norman Windsor on death row for something his daughter Robin couldn’t imagine him doing. She was a teenager when her life blows up with no hope of recovery. The media had a field day chasing her down for information. She is trying to hide in plain sight. It’s difficult b I was hooked from the first sentence, “Most people only die once. But my father is not must people. He is a monster.” I instantly cared for Robin Windsor and her situation, as the novel starts out in current time with Norman Windsor on death row for something his daughter Robin couldn’t imagine him doing. She was a teenager when her life blows up with no hope of recovery. The media had a field day chasing her down for information. She is trying to hide in plain sight. It’s difficult because her father was a Senator. But when Robin is sent to a small town in Michigan to live with her Grandmother, she finds a glimmer of hope. It’s there she meets Peter a soon to be Senior at a high school they both will attend. She learns Peter’s mother was an English teacher who loved the classics. Robin and Peter become fast friends when he starts giving her a book from his mother’s classic book stash. He reads it first. Then she does and writes him a poem in return as payment for the book. The poems give hints as to who Robin is and where she’s come from. All’s well until an incident happens that surprised everyone in River City, Michigan including Robin. This is an engaging story as the author seamlessly blends present and past events in order for the reader and Robin to solve the mystery of why her parents are in prison. This author is creative in all the things Robin has gone through to live a “normal” life. Here’s a peek inside Robin’s thinking…”I went home that day feeling that maybe it would all work out. I didn’t have to live the rest of my days as a side show to my parents - three – ring crime circus. I could write myself a new story. I would be Robin Dickinson, orphan with a heart of gold. And I would give myself a happy ending.” I also loved how the author had Robin work in a bookstore. I felt her passion for the written word. Having worked at a bookstore I could feel Robin’s struggle when someone asks about a book. “What is that one about?”…”There is always a pause after this question as I quickly attempt to encapsulate an entire novel in a one or two sentences….It’s not easy. Each time, when I hear what comes out of my mouth – so inadequate, so small compared to what I had experienced while reading – I feel like I’ve snatched the story from the author’s hands and trampled it underfoot.”… I too feel there is so much more to the story than what I’ve mentioned. Grin! I highly recommend this novel for your next book club pick and one you should add to your reading list. It’s a coming of age story intermingled with a mystery, characters I cared about and ones I didn’t trust. The author has a good insight and character discussions about relationships, forgiveness and classic novels. Warming, you’ll be burning the midnight oil reading this one. I couldn’t put it down. This author is one two watch! Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Baker Publishing Group through Interviews & Reviews. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising” Nora St. Laurent TBCN Where Book Fun Begins! www.bookfun.org The Book Club Network blog www.psalm516.blogspot.com Book Fun Catalogue front page www.bookfun.org

  23. 5 out of 5

    Anne Rogers

    Catalogue copy: Robin Windsor has spent most of her life under an assumed name, running from her family’s ignominious past. She thought she’d finally found sanctuary in her rather unremarkable used bookstore. But the store is struggling and the past is hot on her heels. When she receives an eerily familiar book in the mail on the morning of her father’s scheduled execution, Robin is thrown back to the long-lost summer she met Peter Flynt, the perfect boy who ruined everything. But why woul Catalogue copy: Robin Windsor has spent most of her life under an assumed name, running from her family’s ignominious past. She thought she’d finally found sanctuary in her rather unremarkable used bookstore. But the store is struggling and the past is hot on her heels. When she receives an eerily familiar book in the mail on the morning of her father’s scheduled execution, Robin is thrown back to the long-lost summer she met Peter Flynt, the perfect boy who ruined everything. But why would Peter be making contact after all these years? And why does she have a sinking feeling that she’s about to be exposed all over again? This is the second novel from Erin Bartels, who is rapidly becoming a ‘must read’ author for me. Like her first, We Hope for Better Things, this is set across two time periods, but in this story the time periods are within Robin’s lifetime, and we see the impact of the events of her childhood and youth on her adult self in the ‘now’ sections. What I love about Erin’s storytelling is that it is so immersive. From the fantastic first lines: ‘Most people die only once. But my father is not most people.’ and through the 300+ pages which follow, the story rushes at a breathtaking pace sweeping the reader along with it. We begin the story at the point where Robin’s Dad is due to be executed. On this difficult day, she receives a book in the post. Which may not seem odd for a used bookshop owner, but THIS book is not just a rare first edition copy of Catcher in the Rye, but the actual copy given to her by her childhood friend Peter Flynt, twenty years before. Someone she’s not been in touch with for a very long time. It’s hard to write much about the story without introducing spoilers, because this is a book where a lot happens, and there are plenty of twists and turns. There are a few red herrings in the plot and a few threads which aren’t neatly sewn up by the end, and the last sentence of the second to last chapter felt more like the end of the book than the actual end of the book! The characters are well described and three-dimensional and one of my favourites is The Professor! I shall say no more about him here, except that the reader is in for a treat. The power of words is the theme of the book, and this comes through in the books mentioned throughout, and in prose, poetry, thoughts – and silence. Although this is categorised as women’s fiction, there is a very strong mystery thread – or rather multiple threads. I like this in the books I read, so I hope it’s a trend which will continue into Erin’s next book. Which I hope will be coming soon. Definitely a ‘recommended read’, but I recommend you read it when you have time to sit down and tune everything else out! NOTE: This review is based on a pre-publication manuscript, so some elements may have changed on publication. In the interest of transparency I work with the Revell fiction list, in the UK. However I am not obliged to review any particular book, nor to write positively about it. The comments in my review are entirely my own.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Trixi

    First off, this was the kind of book that drew me in right away and kept me invested in the pages. Erin Bartels is a new-to-me author, so for her to completely immerse me in her world was amazing! Being an avid reader, the idea of this taking place in a bookstore and the passion her main character Robin has for books is something I can totally relate to. They are more than words on a page to me, they have life, and meaning and breathe that little something into my very being. It’s almost as if t First off, this was the kind of book that drew me in right away and kept me invested in the pages. Erin Bartels is a new-to-me author, so for her to completely immerse me in her world was amazing! Being an avid reader, the idea of this taking place in a bookstore and the passion her main character Robin has for books is something I can totally relate to. They are more than words on a page to me, they have life, and meaning and breathe that little something into my very being. It’s almost as if they grab me by the hand and make me live an adventure I would have never have had if I didn’t pick them up. Her characters felt real with the kind of problems and past baggage that we might have in our own lives. With those kind of older childhood/young adult regrets that we have to face and deal with at one point or another. Robin also faces the reality that her father is in prison for committing heinous crimes with the possibility of execution and her mother in prison for being an accessory. Sent to live with her grandma who she never knew, I can understand why she would want to run away from her problems when they threaten to overwhelm her. She finds solace and contentment in her books and running her store. The only character that I really didn’t like was Sarah, her high school classmate. It seems like she took the tragedy that happened when she was a teen and used it as an excuse to live a very destructive lifestyle. This is the part of my review I don’t like to write because I found some flaws that bothered me. Being published by Revell, I’ve never had to question what kind of book I’m reading. I know they will always be Christian fiction books containing a faith thread, which is a vital element to me as a Christian reader. I did not find it in here! That is a huge turn-off to me, especially when I am purposely looking for it. The only redeeming character in here was Dawt Pi, Robin’s employee & friend. There were a few things that pointed to the fact that she was a Christian, especially where she told Robin that she was praying for her & emphasized God loves her. But I feel like her influence on Robin was so insignificant and played such a minor role. The writer had a wonderful opportunity to develop Dawt Pi to be that Christian to shine the light of Christ in Robin’s life. So I was left feeling very let down & very disappointed in the lack of faith. Also, I felt Robin never really did deal with her past in a satisfactory manner. She ran & hid rather than face things head on. A person can’t realistically move on in life without dealing with the hard stuff of the past. Lastly, there was no real feeling of redemption, resolution, or forgiveness for me in this book. It left me with too many questions and not enough answers and I really hated the ending. I was left hanging and asking myself what I just read. So while the writing was fantastic and I can agree with other reviews on this and other points, I have to take away a higher rating due to the lack of faith and no real resolution at the end of the book. I like to have hope, and when it didn’t come about, I was left disappointed. This is my personal taste and I won’t apologize for feeling that way. In conclusion, if you are looking for a book to completely immerse you with evocative prose; this is one that will do it! Just don’t expect faith to play a major role in it. * This book was provided by Baker Publishing Group through Interviews & Reviews for my honest opinion. I was not obligated to leave a favorable review. *

  25. 4 out of 5

    Andrea Cox

    FTC Disclosure: NetGalley and Revell Reads gave me complimentary copies of this book. A positive review was not required. These are my honest thoughts. There was a unique, vintage-book-infused story between the beautiful and perfectly-textured cover of this novel. Quirky and entertaining, this tale found my happy place in large chunks. A few things disrupted my peaceful reading experience, the largest of which was the heavy emphasis on drinking alcohol, drunkenness, and bar FTC Disclosure: NetGalley and Revell Reads gave me complimentary copies of this book. A positive review was not required. These are my honest thoughts. There was a unique, vintage-book-infused story between the beautiful and perfectly-textured cover of this novel. Quirky and entertaining, this tale found my happy place in large chunks. A few things disrupted my peaceful reading experience, the largest of which was the heavy emphasis on drinking alcohol, drunkenness, and bar and holiday parties at which vast amounts of alcohol were consumed. It was unexpected emphasis as the back cover copy didn’t hint at this theme. I must say, though, that I really admired the lead’s stance on not partaking of alcohol despite one of her closest friends trying on a couple of occasions to talk her into it. I was grateful for this positive note amid the muck of that particular theme. Back to the things I adored about this novel. Firstly, the cover was amazing. As soon as a friend alerted me to the major cuteness of the cover art (thanks, Hannah!), I knew I had to read whatever was behind those gorgeously, quirkily stacked books. When I received the paperback in the mail (thanks, Revell Reads!), I was blown away by the unique texture of the cover. Not only was it strikingly beautiful to my eyes, but it passed on that same quality to my fingertips. The way vintage books were infused into the storyline was incredible. This is the second novel I’ve read in recent weeks (the other was Finding Lady Enderly) that found a special way to use classic books within the story. I can’t really talk about how those classics were used in either story, because it would give away major things and rob future readers of the amazing journey those classics helped build. Trust me (or test it out for yourself) when I tell you that it made my heart melt and sigh and sing all at the same time. A couple of characters in this one really stood out to me. Peter was a fantastic hero for ninety-eight percent of the time. There was one “plot twist” that was thrown in seemingly for the shock factor. It was quite out of character for him to react in such a way to emotional pain, and the action he took kicked a large dent in my respect for him. However, the rest of the time, he was an amazing hero who was easy to root for and sympathize with. He was definitely the cause of many a happy sigh from this reader. Dawt Pi was by far my favorite character in this story. At first I thought she was in her forties or fifties, but now I can’t recall why I had that vibe. Once I was told a couple of times about a third of the way through the book that she was in her early twenties, I was able to adjust my mental picture of her pretty well. The age difference between what I thought and how the author envisioned her did not in any way change my opinion of her. The personality of Dawt Pi was very realistic compared to the Asian folks I’ve met (from several different countries, including South Korea, Japan, China, and Burma). Again, I can’t say too much without spoiling things. I simply adored her and want to reread this book just to enjoy her all over again. Another favorite character was The Professor, who was an African Grey parrot. He added so much quirk to this story that I found myself chuckling at him more often than not. This was a great pet to display in these pages, especially under such a skilled hand as Mrs. Bartels obviously has. The split-time presentation really worked for me in this story, which kind of surprised me since the two time periods were so close together. One was present day with the lead somewhere around thirty, while the other was back when she was fifteen. The tension of both threads was heightened because of the style of switching back and forth at every new chapter. I particularly enjoyed how little nuggets of information would be given in one thread that you then needed to know or found out even more about in the other thread. That aspect was written to perfection. Brick & Mortar Books, the lead’s bookshop, was like my dream come true. I’ve often envisioned owning a small bookshop with a little apartment upstairs, so spending time in Robin’s carved-out space was delightful and special and a wonderful treat. This was my first-ever book by Mrs. Erin Bartels, but I think I might have to check out at least one more. She has a fantastic way of crafting her sentences that digs deep while presenting the reader with gorgeous prose that makes one think outside the box. Content: alcohol/drunkenness (including bars/parties; heavy theme), drugs (three or four mentions), expletives, replacement profanity, teen drinking/driving, teen drug use (mentioned, not shown), sexual term (one or two), alcohol memorabilia (one or two), tobacco

  26. 5 out of 5

    Linda Klager

    The cover of the book was very beautiful! I also liked that there was a feather from "The Professor's" wings included on the front and the back of the cover - how ingenious! The book was well written. The main characters were well developed. The story line of the book went from "then" to "now". I think it would have been extremely difficult to have had parents that were involved in a murder of three people. There was a surprise about this event that I do not want to give away. Robin c The cover of the book was very beautiful! I also liked that there was a feather from "The Professor's" wings included on the front and the back of the cover - how ingenious! The book was well written. The main characters were well developed. The story line of the book went from "then" to "now". I think it would have been extremely difficult to have had parents that were involved in a murder of three people. There was a surprise about this event that I do not want to give away. Robin changed her name so that she would not be linked to her parents. She hid away in her book store. She loved books and poetry. Even though I am not a fan of poetry I could see the beautiful way the author created her lines of poetry. The only thing I wished in this book was that there was more of a Spiritual aspect - I would have loved to have seen the main character accept Jesus as her personal Savior and Lord. I did like that her friend went to church and that led Robin to go to church, too. In reading further in the book Robin had a really full life even though being a bit of a recluse. She had some really strong relationships with older folks and I really admired her for that. There is a bit of romance in this book and that added to my enjoyment. I rate this book 4 stars. This book was provided through Baker Publishing Group/Revell through Interviews & Reviews.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Denise

    Thought-provoking, interesting, and intriguing are three words that come to mind after reading this story. I’ve never read anything quite like it. The story flow and character development is spot on. At first I wasn’t sure I was going to like it since it started out talking about death, but as the story progressed I found I couldn’t put it down. There were many references to classic stories, and poems written in response to those. The ending brought healing and closure to the main character, for Thought-provoking, interesting, and intriguing are three words that come to mind after reading this story. I’ve never read anything quite like it. The story flow and character development is spot on. At first I wasn’t sure I was going to like it since it started out talking about death, but as the story progressed I found I couldn’t put it down. There were many references to classic stories, and poems written in response to those. The ending brought healing and closure to the main character, for the most part. There is one story thread that I hope they continue maybe in another book regarding the main character’s parents. Recommended.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Mom_Loves_Reading

    Beautiful and well written with lyrical prose and a unique premise. Alternates effortlessly between past and present and touches on a little bit of everything: scandal, tragedy, heartbreak, and mystery. Readers will fall in love with this book and it’s gorgeous cover! ❤📖 Beautiful and well written with lyrical prose and a unique premise. Alternates effortlessly between past and present and touches on a little bit of everything: scandal, tragedy, heartbreak, and mystery. Readers will fall in love with this book and it’s gorgeous cover! ❤️📖

  29. 4 out of 5

    Breny

    Mmm..let me think. What is one of the biggest regrets I have for this year? NOT ACCEPTING A PAPERBACK COPY OF THIS BEAUTIFUL BOOK!!! *cries* Yes, when I read the book blurb the first time I wasn’t impressed. In my mind, this was going to be a cheesy romantic story of the nerdy girl who loves bookstores, drinks coffee, and something miraculous happens (as entering a cooking competition and winning 10,000 dollars *coughs*) saves her life and in the meantime, she finds her true love. HOW WRONG WAS Mmm..let me think. What is one of the biggest regrets I have for this year? NOT ACCEPTING A PAPERBACK COPY OF THIS BEAUTIFUL BOOK!!! *cries* Yes, when I read the book blurb the first time I wasn’t impressed. In my mind, this was going to be a cheesy romantic story of the nerdy girl who loves bookstores, drinks coffee, and something miraculous happens (as entering a cooking competition and winning 10,000 dollars *coughs*) saves her life and in the meantime, she finds her true love. HOW WRONG WAS I! Two companies offered me the paperback copy and I rejected them until I said, you know what? I’ll give it a try just for the sake of reading something outside my usual reads. And thus I accepted but because I was so sure I was going to hate this book I accepted the ebook copy. *cries passionately*. I beg you, please preorder your copy of this beautiful book! I understand why they had to write the book synopsis like that now because otherwise they would reveal and spoil much of the story. What I completely loved about this book is the originality and precious story! they way the story is told is so unique it intercalates with one chapter of the present and one chapter of the past! like wutttt?!? The writing style and plot was so good every single chapter left you on a cliff hanger and if you wanted to know what happened next in the past you had to read a chapter of the present, and if you wanted to know what happened in the present you had to first read a chapter of the past!. I wanted to desperately know what happened next, it thus became a vicious cycle where I’ve been in for the last three days! I LOVED THIS BOOK, have I already mentioned that? I’m not kidding when I say this is one of my fav books of the year. Forget about the cliche contep popular stories, The Words between us will surpass all of your expectations and submerge you in a story filled with mystery, weird and unusual (in a good unique way) characters, 1990’s vibes, and, even tho I’ve never watched Stranger things, I fell this book has a vibe similar to it, and conspiracies. Think scrunchies, books, spooky weird car trailers, bikes, desolate places, and a friendless girl. OK, I'm done. *fangirls* readdddd itttttt! Cleanness: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4/5 (kisses) Violence: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4/5 (even though there is no graphic violence, there is mentioned some sensitive subjects like death, depression, and the harsh conditions a teenager lived… nothing graphic at all) Plot: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5/5 Characters ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5/5 ** I received an ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the above-mentioned thoughts are my own and weren’t influenced by the author or publisher. **

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sara Wise

    ** “Isn’t that how it so often is? the pastor says. “We ask God for something, he grants our request, and almost immediately we begin to fear. We fear the dangers around us, we fear the unknown, we fear he’ll let us drown. We don’t trust him to keep us safe. We don’t trust him to follow through. And as we sink into the raging water, there are two things we can do. … We can forget about God — ignore the fact that he’s standing right there, within reach — and instead flounder around on our own, tr ** “Isn’t that how it so often is? the pastor says. “We ask God for something, he grants our request, and almost immediately we begin to fear. We fear the dangers around us, we fear the unknown, we fear he’ll let us drown. We don’t trust him to keep us safe. We don’t trust him to follow through. And as we sink into the raging water, there are two things we can do. … We can forget about God — ignore the fact that he’s standing right there, within reach — and instead flounder around on our own, trying to keep our heads above water as we slowly sink. Or … we can call out to him. And that’s what Peter does. He cries out, ‘Lord save me,’ and immediately Jesus reaches out to him. Immediately. He takes hold of him and says, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt? And they get into the boat … and the wind stills.” ** A love story to novels, Erin Bartels’ “The Words Between Us” is also a beautiful story of loss and forgiveness. Told between two time frames — “Now” and “Then” — “The Words Between Us” tells the story of Robin Windsor, a girl struggling with her true identity. In the “Now,” her father (a former senator) is facing execution for several murders as well as a number of other charges, and her mother is also in prison for her role in helping cover up his crimes. Robin is living under a pseudonym, trying to keep her small but struggling bookstore afloat. The “Then” picks up immediately after her parents’ imprisonment when 14-year-old Robin moves to a small town in Michigan to live with her grandmother. As she tries to hide her true identity, she meets Peter Flynt — a fellow teen trying to overcome his own trauma with the sudden death of his mother, a former English teacher. Robin’s and Peter’s relationship grows over their love of the written word — they share Peter’s mom’s books — until some unfortunate circumstances and misunderstandings occur, leading Robin to run away. Each timeframe’s storylines blend together beautifully, building Robin’s narrative of overcoming trials while searching for truth and forgiveness. Bartels does a great job of developing very real and very flawed characters. This is definitely a love story for the written word and books and the struggling bookstore. It reminds us that stories are alive and live forever and bookstores connect us to friends that won’t ever fail you. But “The Words Between Us” challenges us even more deeply. It deals with struggling that we will only disappoint God (“I wish I was so sure that God looked at me with anything but fathomless disappointment”); we must stop worrying about what others think; dealing with and overcoming loss; if not careful, we can become caught in a prison of our own making; just because something is hard doesn’t mean it isn’t worth fighting for; and we don’t need to doubt God’s ability to rescue us. While providing us a beautiful story, Bartels is also a beautifully descriptive writer, with passages like “The spine (of the book) crackles and the sweet perfume of time drifts up to my nose. The lines slip under my eyes like a mother duck and her brood slipping down the river.” This book is a pure delight! Five stars out of five. Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, provided this complimentary copy for my honest, unbiased review.

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