That Church Life by Teresa B. Howell

Friday, December 6, 2019

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Narrator: Bahni Turpin
Series: That Church Life, Book 1
Producer: Three One Six Audio
Publication Date: October 10, 2019

The Church Gal Crew is leading the way to Salvation at Mt. Zion Holiness Church. Feisty Natalia Freemon is the “head” of the crew. Rebellious and outspoken, she has no problems challenging the church status quo. Years later however, her loss of faith will tragically impact her life. 
Michelle Hanks, a country girl from a hardworking farm family is the peacemaker and “soul” of the crew. Although struggling with self-confidence she is wise beyond her years and can’t wait to escape the farm life and find success; even if it costs her soul.
Missy Jones, the “heart” of the crew, has the face of an angel and a voice sent from heaven. A pastor’s daughter raised in the church, Missy loves the ministry and her place in it. But the flesh is tempting, especially when it comes in the form of sexy church musician and Mt. Zion playboy Tommy. 
In spite of her dedication to the word, Missy falls hard for Tommy, and then falls out of favor with the church. Trapped in a cycle of relationship abuse, Missy’s world is falling apart until Beanie, a reformed stick-up man turned Evangelist, shows her real love. But when tragedy strikes, Missy is torn between the truth, that could jeopardize every-thing she loves, or a lie that could be her damnation.
These three best friends drift away from each other and the church but come back together through spiritual downfall, relationship crises, drug addiction, and even murder. Can the crew survive the drama involved in That Church Life?

My Review
From the blurb, you think you are going to get a story that focuses on three friends: Missy Jones, Michelle Hanks and Natalia Freemon all of whom grew up together. But in this first book, we mainly get Missy Jones story. We do get bits and pieces of the other ladies background but imo like they were back-ups to Missy's. 

Missy is the pastor’s daughter, destined to take the reins from her father and be head of the church. But Missy has her own demons that she must deal with; mainly that of Tommy her cheating abusive boyfriend. She then finds out that her family has a secret that can finally put the nail in the church foundation that her Grandmother built.

For the most part, I enjoyed listening to That Church Life. I feel like it had typical drama that comes with these type of stories. Sanctified church folk being typical humans but at times thinking their above the trappings of everyday life because: Jesus will fix it ALL...

My Issues: 
At times, the story didn’t hold strong for me. There were times I felt like the story roamed a bit all over the place and I just couldn't connect with it during the audio. When I first starting listening, I thought maybe it would go another way. 
I also felt like Missy moved too fast after her situation with Tommy. But I guess you can go back to the saying of to get over an old man, its best to get under a new one. Missy could have benefited from therapy in her adult age. I think if the author would have added it, it would have gave her character more of "something". Also, if there was some sort of inclusion of therapy in the church AND therapy in a professional setting...
Again, I do wish we would have gotten more of Michelle's and Natalia's story as well. Honestly, I was over Tommy and Missy at times during the listen. 
There were some stereotypical themes at play here as well. For example, out these three best friends; there was Missy, the light skinned Becky with the good hair. All the men wanted her. Then you had Michelle, the fat quiet best friend; the buffer between Natalia and Missy. And then there was Natalia; the loud, angry ready to pop-off one in the group. I'm not sure if the author wrote the characters like this for a reason and I could be over-reaching but for me, I did some heavy eye-rolling at times during the listen.   

I do feel like the author gave us the story she wanted us to have though. And still That Church Life is drama filled. Secrets, cravings of the flesh and nosy church know, saints AND sinners. If this is your kind of story, I say give it a try.

The Narrator| I usually enjoy Bahni Turpin’s voice but here I felt like her voice was all over the place (which could be me not being to get into this story as much). It was like she couldn’t capture the characters tones and her cadence was out of whack. Too high in some places, low in others. I don't know, I just wasn't feeling her voice this go around. 

**Thank you the author for the opportunity to listen/review. 

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Your Author
Teresa B. Howell is an Exceptional Children’s Director that has two Master Degrees in education and leadership. She has received numerous awards and accolades in her profession, dedicated to mentoring and teaching students within the school system. Teresa was born and raised in the church. She witnessed the good and the not so good while not only attending, but also serving in various capacities in different church organizations. Teresa decided in July 2015 to put her experiences and observations on paper, and her first novel That Church Life was born. She aspires to be more than just the average Christian Author, which can be noted in her writing style. Teresa’s literary path is inspired by her faith, family, and close friends. She currently lives in Durham, NC with her husband and children.

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