Cami Taylor: queen of reinvention.
The road to Cami’s dreams started at the River Bend casino, where she dealt blackjack and created Jackie, the protagonist of her debut novel, Double Down Blues . Jackie was everything Cami was not: reckless, sensuous, pretty, and thin, an alter ego Cami emulated enthusiastically. Blues became a surprise bestseller, and the former Leona Camille Lingo, a bookish, overweight schoolgirl from Phoenix, became Cami Taylor, an attractive, sophisticated author living in New York.
The transformation was complete.
Cami’s boyfriend, Joel, wants to marry her, buy a house on Long Island, and raise a familya life that isn’t even close to Cami’s idea of happiness. Her therapist suggests compromise and trust, but Cami bolts like a deer. She breaks off her eighteen-month relationship with Joel and embarks on a course she believes will secure her future happiness. But a nasty surprise waits around the corner, one she should’ve seen coming. Cami finds herself squared off against an enemy that isn’t impressed by her cynicism, her stubbornness, or her reinvention. What follows is a fight to the death, but who will be the one left standing?
|Publisher:||Morgan James Publishing|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x (d)|
About the Author
L. K. Simonds is a Fort Worth, Texas local. She worked as a waitress, KFC hostess, telephone marketer, assembly line worker, nanny, hospital lab technician, and air traffic controller. She’s also an instrument-rated pilot and an alumnus of Christ for the Nations Institute in Dallas, Texas. L. K. once dreamed of an adventurous life as a missionary pilot in the African bush. That wasn’t to be, so now she writes stories and lives a thousand lives in one.
Read an Excerpt
Even after everything that's gone my way, I still feel like an outsider waiting for someone to open a door and let me in. I huddle over my writing desk — my refuge and the only furniture I kept from Arizona. It's situated to catch the morning light coming through the apartment's tall bay window. Its polished plane is uncluttered, an open space with room to think and work, a space on which my hands now fidget. Within easy reach are a manuscript, a Grand Canyon souvenir mug filled with number two pencils, and a steaming cup of Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee laced with cream. Everything is accessible. Familiar. Safe.
On the street below, the foot traffic has picked up with morning commuters. Ants marching into another day of toil. A few blocks down the street, brick and iron and asphalt give way to a green slice of Central Park. Crowded elm trees overhang the low stone wall that keeps park in and city out. Their new leaves flutter in a chill spring breeze, and the only cloud in sight is the one hanging over my head.
New York, so foreign from everything I knew, sent for me. The first siren song was a black-and-white photograph. The photographer captured a quintessential urban street in the smudged shadows of predawn. In the foreground, a portly grocer in a starched white apron leaned far over a bin of fruit, as if to arrange every apple perfectly, even on the back row. On the other side of the street, a young couple in evening clothes strolled toward the camera, each with right foot forward in midstride, their heads together in a private moment. A grainy glow reflected off a puddle with just enough detail to suggest neon and Broadway. The picture was in National Geographic, and the caption read, "A new day kisses the old good-bye in the Manhattan dawn." I spent hours dissecting it, and at twelve years of age, found myself seduced by a threadbare and world-weary city.
When I was twenty-six and experienced enough to hold my own, I moved to New York. After a few months, I was no longer awed by the city's magnificent architecture or overwhelmed by Manhattan's sprawling human reef. I no longer heard the constant roar of taxis and buses and speech, and the city's arrogant pageantry no longer turned my head.
Eventually, I saw past the shell game, the sleight of hand. Expectations that had been disappointed far too often hid behind facades of calloused boredom. Eyes averted in clichéd New York apathy were feeble defenses protecting a glimmer of hope that trust, one day, might be found. Even the brashest up-and-comers, if caught alone in unguarded moments at corner tables, wore hesitant expressions that belied their confidence. They would be broken too, soon enough, and they knew it.
I wasn't afraid of being broken, so I braved the city's indifference and bared my tender pale throat in the hope I would be taken in. I endured many lonely nights in my newly purchased Upper West Side apartment, accepting with humble gratitude the occasional favors New York sent my way.
I reel in all the reminiscing over what brought me to this town and tighten the terrycloth robe around my thinning body. At times like these, I feel I could just melt away to nothing, and I curse Joel for bringing on this black despair. Last night, my latest boyfriend — if you could call him that — anyway, Joel suddenly told me that even after a year and a half together, he still feels like a stranger with me.
"What does that mean?" I asked as I propped on one elbow and pulled up the sheet.
He leaned back and sighed. Joel is drop-dead handsome, with fair skin that contrasts with his dark hair and eyebrows — perfectly formed eyebrows. Stunning. His eyes are that rare aquamarine, as clear and warm as Caribbean seas. And his smell! Clean and musky, a mix of aftershave and his body's essence. Sometimes, when he comes to me after a show, he carries the sharp odors of spirit gum and sweat and the hot energy of backstage.
I used a line in a story once with Joel in mind: Eat him up with a spoon. That thought flashed through my mind as I watched him rest his crown of thick black hair, messy from bed, against my headboard. His full lips, the shadowed chin that needs shaving twice a day — no doubt about it, Joel is easy on the eyes. I'm addicted to the side glances and double takes we get when we're out together, even in this town.
"I don't know, Cami," he said, his mouth drawing tight in frustration. "You're just so — what?" He shook his head. "Sometimes, sweetheart, it feels like I could be anyone — any guy — and it wouldn't matter. Sometimes, it feels like I don't matter to you. Me specifically, I mean."
My face flushed. "So I don't show you enough passion, or what?" "That's not it." He sat up.
He thought I missed the point. Of course, I didn't miss it at all. I knew what he was talking about.
"It's just that sometimes I wonder what, if anything, you feel for me," he said. "It seems like we have this tight relationship, intimate, you know, but I don't think ..." His voice trailed off, but then he quickly launched in again. "You keep me at arm's length. You don't let me in. Not really.
"What's important to you, Cami? Your work? Is that all? Do you care about your family? You never mention them or anything about your life before you moved here. It's like you came from outer space. And you never ask me about my family."
"That's not true."
"Oh, well, when I bring them up. What I mean is you never initiate it. Our relationship is in this capsule, separated from the rest of our lives. You don't seem interested in anything but what show we're going to or where we're going to eat, or whatever. Nothing important. Nothing that matters."
I swore and sat up. He watched me, as if waiting for me to defend myself. Or break.
"How do you feel about me?" he finally asked.
I bit my tongue and got out of bed without answering. I slipped into the bathroom to dress, because it's impossible to be angry and naked at the same time. Too vulnerable. Even when I was a kid, I hated to wear my pajamas when I was mad. If I had a fight with my parents at bedtime, I always had to put on my clothes again until the anger had worn off.
I went into the kitchen without looking at him and got a diet soda from the fridge. Then I rummaged around in the cabinets and drawers until I found a squirreled-away pack of Marlboro Lights. I sat at the kitchen table and lit up. Joel, fully dressed, came in just as I was stamping out the first one in a saucer. He sat down across from me. "I thought you quit."
"Look, Cami, I really care about you." He paused, and I lit another cigarette. "But I'm tired of wondering where we're going. Tired of wondering how you feel, if you feel anything at all. Sometimes, it seems like you're kinda — this is a terrible thing to say — but it seems like you're kinda dead emotionally. Your characters feel all kinds of things, but do you? It's almost like you're putting up a front all the time."
His voice was gentle, but every word was a sharp blade right into my soul. Fear pounded in my ears, and my only instinct was to circle the wagons. Slowly and deliberately, I drew down on the cigarette and asked in a smoke-choked rasp, "What do you want from me, Joel?"
He reached across the table and took my hand. Wrapped around mine, his fingers were warm and dry. "I care about you, Cam. I just want to get inside you —" I snorted and exhaled the smoke in a thick jet. It was abusive, I know. A cheap shot. But it was out before I could stop it.
His hand withdrew instantly. "Touché," he said. He slapped his palms on the table and stood. "You know, I have a friend who sees a really good therapist. You should think about it. Her name's Wortham. Sylvia Wortham."
All of that happened last night, and this morning I woke up with a grunge mouth from all the cigarettes I smoked after he left. I'm obviously in no mood to work, so I pull back my hair and throw on my sweats to go for a run. My lungs are heavy, resisting the abuse, but I run the full five-mile circuit of my regular route anyway. Afterward, I walk to the corner of Fifty-Ninth and Fifth, where I sprawl on a bench.
Head back. Eyes closed. Nothing but the morning sun on my face and the sounds of the city. Cars. Buses. Horns. Voices everywhere. Carriage horses snort and knock their shod hooves against the asphalt. The cool temperature mercifully mutes the odors of horse dung and the stench of urine when a homeless guy passes too close.
I don't have to look to visualize the people on the street. Manhattan lays out a daily smorgasbord of humanity. Old and young, rich and poor, bourgeois and Bolshevik. Shuffling lunatics. A courier or two. Tourists and locals speaking every language and dialect on the planet. All together, they form a single living organism, a New York amoeba, shaping itself to its sidewalk container, shrinking from the overflowing wastebaskets and ubiquitous vendors. When the light changes, its tentative pseudopod reaches forward and spans the street in a long skinny stretch. Then the organism reforms on the next corner. I can be part of that, a bit of DNA that's different from the rest but definitely connected to the strand. I can almost imagine myself whole again, centered.
Until I get an overwhelming sense of someone's attention fastened on me.
I open one eye and squint at the well-groomed silhouette of Hillary Bachman, my publicist.
"Cami? Cami Taylor? Is that you?"
Of course she barely recognizes me. No makeup. Dirty hair. Why her, today, of all people?
She sits primly on the bench beside me in her size 2 Chanel suit. I'm the thinnest I've been in my life but sitting next to Hillary makes me feel fat.
"So," she says, "have you been out for a run?"
I'm so self-conscious that I can't even feel superior about her asking such a stupid question. I'd give anything for my sunglasses right now. "Yeah. I was just cooling down."
"Well, dear, you certainly picked a good spot. I'm on my way to meet a client at the Plaza. It's such a beautiful morning that I decided to walk."
"Oh, he's fine. He's fishing upstate this week."
Hillary's husband, Ethan Bachman, is the senior partner in the law firm of Bachman, Strauss, and Leichmann. This prestigious station in life affords him and Hillary a Park Avenue address and a summerhouse in Bar Harbor, Maine. I spent a week at the Bar Harbor place last year. It sits on a hill overlooking the town and the bay. Every morning, I sat on the front porch and watched an enormous ferry depart for Nova Scotia. I wrote a story set in the little town and sold it to a New England literary journal.
Hillary works as a diversion. She's good at what she does when she does it, but she doesn't mind canceling an appointment for something more important, like a bridge game. I don't have any complaints though. On my modest publicity tour, she put me up at the best hotels and allowed as much free time as she could manage for sightseeing, no small feat on the budget allotted to an emerging author. The only thing that really bothers me is that I get the impression she feels sorry for me.
Not long after I moved to New York, I let Hillary fix me up with her nephew Paul. Paul was all right — a little self-absorbed, but decent company for dinner or whatever. We dated long enough for me to let things go too far. I didn't have any strong feelings for him one way or the other, but we drifted into an affair because, well, let's face facts, it was no big thing to me.
I'm sure I sent a lot of mixed signals, depending on how much he was getting on my nerves at any particular moment. Eventually, it got weird between us and he stopped calling. That was that, or so I thought. But afterward, it seemed as if Hillary and her husband thought they had discovered some gaping need in me. Nothing was ever said, but they looked at me differently after Paul. It wasn't my imagination either. I actually saw pity in their eyes. It made me wonder what he'd told them. He didn't even know me, for God's sake.
"He asked how you were the other day," Hillary says.
"Why, Ethan, of course." She looks at me curiously. "I told him it's been ages since I've seen you."
"Oh. Sorry for being preoccupied. I'm afraid my mind is full of my novel this morning."
She checks her watch and stands. "Well, I should go anyway. Let's have lunch soon."
"Yes, let's. I'll call you."
My solitude is sweet as I stroll home through the park. I walk slowly, savoring the fresh air. The sun is high and growing warm. The light, the chattering birds, and the cheerful faces I pass buoy me enough to make me believe this day might be salvaged, even though thinking about Paul is a sucker punch to my already bruised ego.
I pass a vacant kiosk, and my image in the dark window stops me. I have stared at my reflection in mirrors for as long as I can remember. Not admiring my appearance, but wondering what I'm doing on the planet, a question that still hangs unanswered in the happy morning air.
I turn away and finish my journey home, stopping in the lobby to retrieve a bundle of mail from the box. Speaking to no one. My gaze pushes along the floor, then up the stairs as I haul myself to the second floor.
The hallway is deserted. At the door to my apartment, I fumble with the key. Before I know it, my breath catches, and the pieces of mail slip away, falling to the floor. I close my eyes and rest my forehead against the doorjamb. Tears rise from my belly and splatter onto the bills and advertisements as I slide to my knees.CHAPTER 2
It's after three in the morning when I reach a decision about seeing the psychiatrist Joel recommended. I'm standing at the kitchen counter, throwing down a shot of Jack Daniel's. I'm not much of a drinker. I seldom have more than a glass of wine with dinner or an occasional aperitif. Joel drinks wine like water, so I keep the makeshift liquor cabinet above the refrigerator stocked with good cab. But the situation at hand calls for stronger medicine. I've counted all the punched-tin ceiling squares I care to for one night, and tomorrow's another wasted day if I'm fried from no sleep. The bottle of Jack was pushed to the back of the cabinet, the forgotten leftover of a forgotten guest.
The first shot doesn't go down easy. I gulp it in a hot sluice that feels like it has no business in my throat. I pound down a second and grip the counter, considering whether or not my stomach will hold up. My gut finally warms to the job, so I move to the table with the bottle and the glass and get serious. First thing in the morning, I'll look up Sylvia Wortham and give her a call. But was Sylvia the therapist or Joel's friend? I can't figure it out.
* * *
A sudden, head-shattering clanging startles me out of my coma, and I swing and swipe in the direction of the nightstand. The Big Ben windup clatters to the floor, but the ringing doesn't stop. I kick and flail myself free of the bed's cotton tentacles and stumble blindly around the apartment until I locate the telephone in the kitchen.
"Hello?" I croak as the machine picks up. The recorded greeting competes with me in a discordant clamor. I slump over the table, waiting for it to play out. The sight of the open whiskey bottle brings on a stabbing headache. I push away a pink Fiestaware saucer filled with cigarette butts, every one smoked down to the filter, testifying that I resorted to relights. Oh, God.
The greeting finally ends. "Hello?" I say.
"Hello, Ms. Lingo?" says the caller. A solicitor. My telephone number is listed under my birth name in the Manhattan phone book. Well, close to it anyway. L. C. Lingo, not the cumbersome Leona Camille. This was Mom's idea in case of a family emergency, but I only get nuisance calls.
"I don't want any," I say.
"Excuse me? I'm so sorry to bother you. Did I wake you?" The woman's accent is definitely Southern.
"Yes, as a matter of fact, you did."
"Oh, I'm so sorry. Please forgive me. Is there another time when I could call you back?"
"No, there isn't. Like I said, I don't want any. And put this number on your no-call list."
"Can I just —"
"God, lady, are you deaf?" Is she an idiot or what? I pull the phone away from my ear and am about to end the call when I hear her say something about family.
Has dad had another stroke? Or something worse, something so bad that my mom can't call? Sourness pushes up from my stomach. "Are you calling from Phoenix?" I ask. "Is it my dad?"
"Oh, no. It's nothing like that. I'm just down the street at the Essex House. I don't — forgive me — I didn't mean to startle you so."
I exhale slowly. The day won't be spoiled by a family crisis. "What then? Why are you calling?" Silence.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "All In"
Copyright © 2019 L.K. Simonds.
Excerpted by permission of Morgan James Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I found All In by L.K. Simonds was an excellent book that showed how one person, Cami, lost her way in life and her journey brought her from drugs, sleeping around, and keeping at arm's length to finding Christ and finding an honest and fruitful balance to her life. All In demonstrated that no matter how lost in the dark one is, there's always light and God at the end of the tunnel if we're willing to work for it. I loved how read this book was and that no matter what, faith in oneself and Christ/God will always raise you up and bring you joy and hope. Thank out NetGalley for introducing me to a new author. This was my honest opinion.
All In reminds me of a coming-of-age story, but it’s not. As a matter of fact, the main character has already been “around the block” more times than most. However, this story is more about self-discovery in the face of adversity. This story is labeled as Christian Fiction - and that is certainly true, particularly near the end - but it is nevertheless a story that can and will raise emotions in a reader. Although slow in the beginning, Simonds finds a nice pace around the middle of the book, and she continues that through the end of the story. **Meet Cami - All In’s Main Character** Cami is definitely not a mild-mannered protagonist that will melt your heart. Actually, it’s likely that some of her life choices and mannerisms will clash with those often found in main characters. But that’s precisely what makes Cami such a marvelous protagonist. Cami is flawed in so many ways. She’s a successful author, currently working on her second novel, but her personal life leaves more to be desired. She seems to have it all, but is it really what she needs? After a breakup with her boyfriend, she seems to question what she wants in life and how to attain it. She then gets some life-altering news, and she has a very difficult time accepting it. Along Cami’s journey, she meets Kate. A distant relative, Kate is the complete opposite of Cami. She seems to have life all figured out. When she offers Cami refuge from her life, at Kate’s Dallas home, Cami eventually accepts. Cami’s time in Dallas changes everything. I think Cami is a main character I won’t easily forget. **Technically Speaking** This book was very well edited. I didn’t note any SPAG errors. Cami’s character arc, as you can imagine, is huge. (But that doesn’t mean it’s easy to predict where it goes. You might be surprised.) This character arc - the changes in Cami - really drives the story. I’d love to tell you more about how this story made me feel, but I couldn’t do so without dropping spoilers. I will say, though, that it definitely moved me. This is a great story, and I highly recommend it.
All In delves into the human psyche and digs deep for the truth. A truth that is revealed by the actions of Cami and those around her. This is not your typical Christian fiction book, so if you are opposed to nitty gritty situations in your books, then you won't want to read this one. BUT if you like to see how faith in God can change a person from the lowest depths to the highest levels, then you will want to read this novel. Cami is the kind of character that many will be able to relate to because her life is not picture perfect. She may have achieved success as an author, but something is missing. It takes connecting with distant family and a life altering event before Cami realizes the destructive path she is on and if she doesn't change her life will not be what she wants. I will admit that the first half of this book was slow and I wondered if Cami was going to find her way or she was going to keep floundering with her writing, her family, or her life. But about halfway through the book, there is a revelation that changes everything and from that point on I was hooked on the book and had a hard time putting it down. How was Cami going to handle this situation? What about her new relationship with Kate (a distant cousin)? How was she going to handle this news? Chapter 23 is one of the best chapters, in my mind, because it centers around a discussion between Cami and Kate about faith, God, life, and the direction Cami is headed. I could have quoted most of the chapter because I felt so much of it was poignant. I think it was also a turning point for Cami and Kate was instrumental in facilitating the new path despite Cami's reluctance to open her heart and life to others. Cami hides so much of her life from everyone and, in a way, she is much like the character Jackie in her book. Living life on the edge but without a real purpose. Is what she missing faith and God? Only Cami can discover that and it isn't an easy sell. A large portion of this book is set in Dallas where Kate lives and Cami visits. I was surprised to discover that Christ for the Nations Institute is a real place in Dallas. It is a charismatic non-denominational church and I'm not sure I believe what was described in the book, but I can't say it couldn't happen either. The bible is full of miracles so anything is possible. The only question that wasn't answered is why Kate and her husband left one church for this one. Kate tells Cami she will tell her later but I do not remember that being answered. These are some of my favorite quotes from the book: "...but it seems like you're kinda dead emotionally. Your characters feel all kinds of things, but do you? It's almost like you're putting up a front all the time." "In the half hour or so between first light and daybreak, the desert holds its breath. Nothing moves. Not air. Not cactus flower. Not thermometer. Then the sun, in full bloom, crests the lumpy red mountains, and the birds abandon their night roosts with trills as clear as the air itself. By noon, you can grill tortillas on any sunny sidewalk, but the early mornings are perfect." "A mother bear's protective instinct. Actually, more like wolverine." "There's only one reality. Any other ideas on the subject are just existential crap." "There's a big difference between hoping something will happen and arranging your life in such a way that it will happen, inevitably." "We're all one bad hand away from disaster."
4.5 STARS. 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 IN is 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.
When I read the synopsis for All In by L.K. Simonds, I was definitely intrigued. There was something about it that really spoke to me. The plot felt very realistic and was done beautifully. Cami is a 29 year old famous author that doesn't seem to let things bother her much. After breaking up with her boyfriend, things start going downhill for her fast especially when something life changing happens. Unbeknownst to Cami, God is trying to touch her heart. Will she accept or will she push God away like everyone else she's pushed away? The world building for All In was written very well. I felt like I was with Cami every step of the way from the breakup with her boyfriend, her one night stand, her vacations in Dallas, to her life changing event. While the pacing for All In starts off quite slow, it does eventually pick up about halfway through the book. Once the pacing picked up, I found myself absorbed in each and every little detail All In had to offer. I didn't really feel that this book had any plot twists or at least any major plot twists, but I also felt this novel didn't need any plot twists to hold its reader's interest. I did find myself trying to guess who helped Cami come to her life changing event. (Sorry to be so cryptic, but I don't want to give any spoilers away.) To some, All In may feel a bit preachy towards the ending of the book. However, this is a Christian fiction novel, and it is easy to tell that turning to God is what this book's main message is once you get closer to the ending. While we don't learn who contributed to Cami's life changing event (and it's not a big deal to find out who), every other loose string is tied up by the time the book ends. The characters in All In are well fleshed out. My favorite character was Kate. I loved, loved, loved how caring she was towards everyone. She never had an unkind word about anyone. In fact, she was such a great role model. She was always full of encouragement throughout. I would love someone like Kate in my life. I also loved how patient Joel (Cami's ex) was with Cami. David was also a great guy, and I also loved how patient he was with Cami and just life in general. Another character I also loved was Sam. Even though he was dying, he wasn't angry or anything. In fact, he seemed very at peace with everything. The one character that did irk me was Cami. She seemed emotionless through most of the story. Joel accuses her basically of being emotionless, and he's right. She also comes off as extremely rude and snobby. I didn't really like or connect with Cami at all until the end of All In. Plus, I found it extremely gross when she was lusting and trying to seduce her 19 year old cousin. Cami seemed to just look at a guy and want to sleep with them. She'd also mention what each guy looked like and how attractive or unattractive they were each time. Cami couldn't just look at a man and see him as just a person. I felt like this took away from the book. Trigger warnings for All In include death, some profanity, alcohol use, drug use, minor violence, and promiscuity (although the scenes were never graphic). Overall, All In turns out to be a very uplifting read that sends a fantastic loving message. The plot is solid, and it does have some really sweet characters. I would recommend All In by L.K. Simonds to those aged 18+ who are questioning their faith in God or those who are already believers or are on the verge of believing. All In will leave you feeling satiated and loved
I received a complimentary copy of All In from NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. In the beginning, I really hated Cami, quite an ungrateful, self-loathing, and oppositional character. I almost quit reading the book because she irritated me so much. At the point when I nearly put it down, something interesting..a bit like karma...had finally happened in her life to keep me engaged. Overall, I am glad I finished the book because I did appreciate the intended message of forgiveness and self-improvement, which I would have missed had I not finished it. Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC.
An incredibly well woven story of hope, pain, emotion and redemption. Seamlessly told by the author this book was so very real, there were times I felt like a voyeur in Cami's life and the trials she faces as we get a front and center seat in her personal journey that runs from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows and back again. It's a story of surrender and a deep longing for something other than. It is captivating, beautiful and often painful, as you watch her make her way through her life and along the way is met with people who help her get to where she, in her heart deeply desires to be. It's a story of belonging, becoming and beginning again. Absolutely breathtaking. I cannot wait for this authors next book. This is a stellar read, her style and development are perfect. arc from NetGalley and publisher
LK Simonds expertly wove likable and authentic characters with a compelling plot. There was no point in the story where I wanted to put the book down. In fact, I was sad as I neared the end of the story. I didn't want it to end! The protagonist character, Cami, was complicated. I loved that. She made me want to start writing fiction! When characters influence your thinking and life in that way, you know you have a good book in your hands. Thank you for sharing ALL IN with the world! I will be recommending it to everyone I know!
You don't expect a Christian book to feature a woman who's so spunky, full of personality and rebellious. She's the most unboring Christian character I've ever met (cigarettes, alcohol, casinos and all). But that's part of what makes this book so interesting. You get a glimpse into how Cami lives her life so recklessly, which makes the turnaround so much more impactful. This book takes you on a journey into two very different worlds (her old life and her new life). But it was believable because of how low she fell in her life. I always think that one's descension into a pit can be the perfect environment for a breakthrough. Also, I thought it was interesting what she experienced at David's church- something I don't doubt happens to some people in real life. But I've never read about such a thing in a work of fiction before so I was most fascinated. The detail in that scene was so vivid and lifelike that it almost seemed as if the author experienced or witnessed a similar event in her own life before. I was "there" and I was sold. The writing in this book is top notch and helped me improve my vocabulary. I was looking up many words I didn't know. The airplane scene with Eddie was funny. I was amused. The card game scene with her mom's friends was also amusing. It's interesting how a writer is writing about a writer. Although this is the author's first book, she knows so much about the publishing world, and she has me wondering if she really did work at a Casino before. She seems to have so much knowledge about so many different things. Quotes that stood out to me: "I think people are the same no matter where you go. And frankly, a little undeserved kindness goes a long way toward softening up the hard ones." "Cry out and lament for yourself and for every person who has drawn this air, only to exhale the last breath of their allotted number." "This is her home Bible, the one she moves all over the house like a squirrel moves a nut." (Haha) "All my filth washes away, and my hard heart melts like wax in his presence."
All In by L.K. Simonds is her very first published novel. According to the back blurb on the book Cami Taylor’s boyfriend loves her in spite of her flaws. He wants to marry her but she has other ideas. Breaking off the relationship she goes on a quest for happiness. I never finished the book. I only got to page 55. Within those few pages there were two sex scenes, visit’s to a bar, drinking, and cigarette smoking. Just not what I expected from a Christian fiction story. Although the sex scenes weren’t really explicit, the act wasn’t described in detail, the fact that they were even talked about or even included was just too much for me. A couple of times ‘God’ was used as a swear word. I did read the last two pages and it looks like Cami eventually found the Lord. There was just too much other stuff in between. I received this book from the author in exchange for my honest review.
All In was definitely not the book that I thought I was going to be reading. This is another case where the back cover only gives us a rough idea about what we might be in for. First, I did not like this story. It was raw and an uncomfortable read for me. However that does not mean that it is not an important message. Our lives are guided by rules and boundaries and no matter what this current culture try's to tell us, these rules and boundaries are for our own good. They help us to live life in a much more peaceful manner and when we step beyond these boundaries and break the rules, consequences inevitably happen. We have gifts in this life that God has given the human race and unfortunately we as a people have corrupted probably all of them and have twisted them and defiled them into something so unrecognizable and want others to feel that misery as well. This story I would say is a cautionary tale. One that the topics should be discussed with young people, ones that we should guard our hearts against, and finally we should be in prayer for the unbelievers. There is only one that can fill the God sized hole in our lives and trying to fill that hole with anyone and anything else will only lead to heartbreak. While reading I did have to skim parts, not because the author was graphic, just because it was like watching a train wreck. This story does deal with mature topics and their is some language. But aside from all that, even though this book was not a happily ever after story here in ways it was a hopeful ever after for eternity. I received a copy of this novel from the author. I was not required to post a positive review and all views and opinions are my own.
All in When I finished this book I say to myself “wow”. Cami has quite a life. A wild life. She is a writer and her book reflects her life. I really got involved in Cami character. This book had me really involved and I was able to get things off my mind while reading it. Not very books does that. Lately it has been hard for me to keep my mind on the story. This book kept my attention. This is one of those books that is hard to write a review. I have to be very careful not to give spoilers. I definitely recommend reading it. I received a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher through Celebrate Lit. This review is my own opinion.
All In is a debut novel that hits it out of the park. Prepare to be captivated and not leave the pages of the book until you’ve devoured every word. Okay, honest time. I started this book. And then I put it down and read another. It wasn’t that it wasn’t written well. Because it is wel written. It’s a really really good book once you get past the first few chapters. Cami is very self-absorbed. And there are some words and scenes and things within the covers of this book that I’m not on board with. But, despite those, or because of them, this is still a wonderful book. All In shares about the deep soul-saving redemptive love of God. It challenges us to look deeper and go deeper. While Cami matures and becomes less self-absorbed we get new ideas and new thoughts on her as a person but also on us as individuals and as followers of Christ. Do I recommend All In as a good book? Yes, I do. But, I do want people to go into it with eyes wide open. There are some scenes that I truly think could have been left out. Words could have been left out(yes I’m talking curse words) and some activities like drugs/alcohol could have been left out. They’re in here though. Know this when you start reading. I did not know this and that’s why I did take a break from the book. I came back, I restarted the book, and I finished the book. But while reading the book I did have to dig deep. It made me think and it challenged me. That is why I recommend it and think you might want to give it a read. This is not one I would recommend for teens. In fact, my copy was a physical copy and I’m passing it on to other adults to read so that it does not stick around in my house for a teen to pick up. My teens are 14 and under and this is not something I want them reading at this point in their lives. Gambling. All In shows you a parallel between life and cards. I’m not a card player. In fact, if it’s not solitaire chances are I have no clue what you’re talking about. This did leave me a little lost to the connection a few times, but I muddled through it. So in conclusion. I’m not sure what genre I’d classify this book besides Christian fiction. I would classify it as an adult only book. I have voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from Celebrate Lit. All views expressed are only my honest opinion. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC regulations.
I wish I could say I liked this book, but I can not. This book does not exactly fit my views of what a Christian book should be. I found the language and material coarse and on the verge of being vulgar. While the basic premise of the story is good – a woman being forced to examine her life and come to a relationship with God, the execution left a lot to be desired for me. I do not believe it is necessary to use profanity in order to make a point. I believe the author could have left these words out and still conveyed the type of character Cami was. While I recognize that casual sex is a thing, in a book that is supposed to from the Christian genre it is not expected in such an abundance. The one redeeming factor in this book for me what the final pages after Cami has come to accept Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. So if you do not mind a book with coarse language and sexual matters, check out this book for yourself. As a matter of conscience, I do not feel comfortable recommending this book. I received a copy of this book for my fair and honest review.