Cover Image: After She Falls

After She Falls

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One of the best books I have read this year! Not your ordinary Christian Fiction, so much good within these pages!

Adri Rivera had been on track to be one of the best in the world of mixed martial arts, but then she fell in love with a man that took all the fight from her. Adri gets pregnant and puts the world of fighting behind her until her husband’s abuse becomes more than she can handle. She goes back to her hometown to live with her uncle who raised her and taught her all about the world of martial arts. While she is back home, she runs into her old flame, Max Lyons. Max has opened his own gym in town and wants to help Adri, so he gives her a job as an instructor for the kid's class. It doesn’t take long for Adri to get the itch to fight again and Max agrees to coach her. The more time they spend together, the more sparks start to fly causing them to confront their past to determine if they have a future together.

When I think of Christian Fiction, particularly Contemporary Christian Fiction, a fast action, MMA fighting book is not what normally comes to mind. This story is one of the best I have read all year long. I loved the interactions between characters from beginning to end, Adri is strong but has been beaten down for so long she has forgotten her strength, until she must protect her daughter who she cares more about than her own safety. The fight scenes were written so well, I actually felt like I was in the ring with Adri fighting and felt every blow she landed and received. Her relationship with both her husband and Max are complicated but that is also what makes them believable. This book had me gripped and on the edge of my seat until the very last page. I so admired Adri as a main character and the strength she had to find for herself. This is the type of book that I think many, even those that don’t normally read Christian fiction, will greatly enjoy. It is a true underdog story with romance and drama sprinkled in at just the right places. If you are a fan of MMA and fighting give this book a chance, you won’t be disappointed. 

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.
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I know it seems like such a simple word, but really that's what I've come up with. This book was just wow. It blew me away. I mean I was on the edge of my seat, heart pounding after only the first chapter. It was a difficult situation and for sure doesn’t give you the warm fuzzies. BUT it’s so well written. You feel like you’re right there with the character. And it's like this for the entire book. Honestly I couldn't put it down.

Schober tackles a rough topic, as well as brings a profession that we don't see very often in Christian Fiction. There's a couple of messages this gave me. First, who people are on the outside is not necessarily who are they are or how they feel on the inside. Our leading lady Adri is a prime example. She is this beautiful, strong willed mixed martial arts professional - on the outside. But when she is in her abusive relationship, she's not so tough. And I don't mean that she wasn't strong per say, I mean like she didn't fight back for a long time. She took it. She probably could have hurt the guy abusing her, and yet she allowed him to keep the abuse going. Doesn't seem like something a professional mixed martial artist would do, right? Take someone's crap? And yet she does. She has vulnerable moments, insecurities, and she's human after all. I guess my point is that someone can seem like such a tough guy on the outside, but you don't really know what's going on deep down on the inside. Adri had so much going on inside, she just needed some help.

The other message - there are Christian's everywhere. Now I know that probable sounds weird to you, but it's really what I walked away thinking. I think there are some parts of the world that we just don't associate with "Christians" if you will, and honestly, I fall prey to those who probably don't imagine a Christian being in the fighting world. But they are, and in so many other areas that I wouldn't normally think of, and I thank Schober for reminding me of that. We are so quick to judge and make assumptions about people, that we don't stop for a moment and really put thought or effort into who they really are.

I know these two points don't really speak of Schober's writing style, but they were just important lessons I wanted to share. So you can see the impact this book had on me. Not for one second did I ever feel like I was reading a debut novel. No, it felt more like someone who had been writing for decades, had an important message to share, and could easily weave together the most well written and beautiful story I have read this year. Even our hero Max made an imprint on my heart. He had his own growing to do, and the fact that he wasn't a Christian honestly worked great. Why? Because it's real life. Sometimes we're friends with people who aren't Christians. Sometimes we even fall for them. And do they always turn to Christ? No. But it's amazing to see the growth in those who do.

Schober is an author to watch for. I'll be stalking her social media until her next book comes out. Her faith themes are amazing, her characters are well developed, and her story lines are intriguing. I cannot wait to see what's next! I received a complimentary copy of this book. I was not required to write a favorable review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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After She Falls 
by Carmen Schober 
Pub Date: November 2, 2021 
Bethany House Publishers 
* Christian  * Romance  * Contemporary 
+18 for violence and domestic abuse 

Thanks to Bethany House Publishers and NetGalley for the chance to read this ARC.  This is not my typical read but I found myself drawn to this book and I loved the characters. This is a good book! Note: Due to the nature of this story, there is a certain level of violent behavior within several scenes. Alcohol also flows freely, it would be more surprising if it didn't. 

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I liked this story well enough, though it was gritty and I found that I just don't care for MMA. This story gave me a new appreciation for the training that the fighters put in, and I could appreciate the life lessons that applied to the heroine's abusive relationship. This book just wasn't for me.
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Carmen Schober’s debut novel is an excellent written and interesting book. If this is any indication of her future novels, I will say she will be rising to the top in Christian Fiction. This book is very descriptive with strong and well formed characters. The story had several different aspects; romance, Christian faith and also the lack thereof, wife abuse and mistrust, violence and other difficult emotions. There is Adri, the main female character who is in training as a professional mixed martial artist and fighting in cage fights. The author focused mainly on the fighting moves and strategies. It also describes the injuries that can occur. I did not know there was such a sport like this for women. Hitting, kicking, hair pulling and much more. All in all this book is one to hold your interest until the very last paragraph. I can’t wait for the next novel by Carmen Schober….Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an early ecopy. I am happy to leave a review.
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Oh my God!!!
I loved this book!

The story was amazing, touching and inspiring. The characters were so human and relatable. I didn't want to the book to end and at the same time I wanted it to so I could see what happened.

Max and Adri! Ths electric sizzling between then was palpable. I loved how they complimented each other. The bond between then was amazing.

I loved how they both evolved through the story. The support system they had was just the best.

The faith lessons to be gleaned from this story are life changing.

I received a copy of this book and this is my honest opinion.
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18+ for violence and domestic abuse

I was attracted to this book because of its unique premise with being about a woman MMA fighter.  It's not really something I've learned much about before and I was interested to pick up the story and learn more about it.

I wasn't expecting it to be written in present tense and that was sometimes very jarring, especially as people generally talk in past tense, and the past tense conversation would be interspersed with present actions and conversation tags.  However, she does write it consistently throughout the book, which helps.

It starts off with a bang where the woman is in the midst of a domestic abuse situation which includes animal abuse.  It was a very quick read for me and kept my attention.

There were some large things I didn't like--flirting before divorce was completed, dirty dancing, heavy drinking/drunkenness, and one outright profanity.  It's definitely a gritty story.  I very much appreciated that there were no sex scenes, though, and that the MC did her best to stop things as soon as her conscience intervened.  

I didn't quite think the story line with the ex was realistic.  Based on the portrayal of him, I expected <spoiler> him to feel a whole lot more present and threatening, since I've known a number of abusers and it seemed off that he would just show up once or twice.  Abusers are usually much more obsessed with their victims.</spoiler> Other than that, the story line is easy to follow and each of the side characters are nicely rounded and feel very real.

Overall, a solid debut.  

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for a free reading copy.  A favorable review was not required.
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I've had my eye on this book for months, so thank you Netgalley for adding it. First off, this is a unique MC with a very unique skillset. I appreciated seeing this tough kind of woman, as (unfortunately) this kind of very real woman is under-represented in plenty of women's lit.
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This is a new author for me which I enjoyed from beginning to end.  This is a story that is written with alot of heart and the author's use of details made it realistic.  This is a well written story about Adri and her dreams of becoming a mixed martial artist.  As she is faced with comfronting her past and her weaknesses will she find her future?  This is a really great story that I enjoyed.  The characters pulled me into the story from the beginning.  They are connectable and made the story engaging.  The author's writing skills brought the story to life on each page.  I also enjoyed Adri's growth throughout the story.  This is a story that I highly recommend.  It is worth the pic up.
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This book was read thanks to NetGalley. 

This book I would describe it as a begin again, the protagonist has to begin again and find herself again and this book shows how hard can it be to begin again, and the author does a nice job with Adri's arch because she begins again for herself, for her be better, for her be happy, for her. 

This book tells the story of a woman who is trying to overcome an abusive relationship, so if you think that the topic can be a trigger warning, I recommend discretion.
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After She Falls is Carmen Schober’s debut novel and what a debut it is! I got completely sucked into this story from the first page! I was totally invested in the characters and I needed to find out how their story would turn out.

After She Falls has a storyline that is so different from the norm, our female main character is an MMA fighter, that is why I decided to give it a try. And while it is raw and gritty at times, there’s also a very realistic faith thread woven throughout and the redemption of both main characters was very realistic. There are also some great side characters that really added to the story. In fact, I’d love to read Boom’s book next!

I did have a couple of issues. First, it is written in present tense which is not my favorite. I think because I listened to about 75% of it on audiobook and read the rest, that it didn’t bother me as much. In fact, I highly recommend the audiobook. The narrator really gives personality to these characters. I also felt like the beginning of the story had some situations that were a little too much, and while it made sense for the redemption of the characters, I think it could’ve been toned down a little and still been effective.

I do highly recommend After She Falls and I will definitely be reading Carmen Schober’s next story. 4.5 stars! 

I received a complimentary copy of this book. I also purchased the audiobook. All opinions are my own.
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This unfortunately was a DNF read for me.

I am a BIG fan of MMA as exercise (learned this thanks to covid! Gyms closed and I discovered Chris Hemsworth's fitness app Centr, quickly falling in love with the MMA and boxing styles of some trainers), and can definitely appreciate it as an art or self-defense form. So in that regard, this book was really appealing.

A few mentions of the violence component (and reveling in it, to a point) in the book, though, gave me pause--as did a handful of language and a fair bit of alcohol consumption. The use of present tense throughout also proved to be distracting--just not my thing.

The alcohol in particular, including several instances of having multiple drinks at a go, turned out to be pretty triggering for me. I've had my own challenges with alcohol over the years and no longer drink, and this ultimately became why I had to set the book aside.

I received an eARC of the book from the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
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Bethany House turns edgy with Carmen Schober’s debut novel, After She Falls

When most people catch a glimpse of an MMA fight, they are shocked that someone would willingly spend their life training to be beaten up for sport; however, very few consider what goes on in the fighter’s heart behind the scenes and whether or not faith plays a role. In Carmen Schober’s debut novel, readers will find a refreshing narrative that respectfully tackles the heavy topic of domestic violence while also shining a light on people's passion for mixed martial arts. Wrestling the lines of faith and anger, After She Falls is an excellent novel with an important message to share!

Adri Rivera was a promising fighter with a successful career ahead of her until she left it all behind for what she believed to be her happily ever after. Falling blindly in love with a man who could silence a room with one look, she willingly walked away from everything she’d trained her whole life for to pursue a future with Owen; however, the fairytale is short-lived when Owen’s true colors come to the surface, but is it too late for Adri to leave?

Determined to protect her daughter from her husband's rage and violent outbursts, Adri takes the risk and flees, returning to the safest place she knows. Nevertheless, returning to her hometown will come at a cost. Will Adri be able to make amends with her childhood best friend and first love, Max Lyons, or will her betrayal be unforgivable? And, what of her fighting career? Does Adri have the chance to start over, or will the ghosts of her past prevent her from chasing the dream still blazing in her heart?

"She tried, but she hasn’t forgotten who she used to be—a local legend in mixed martial arts, a professional fighter in the making. She closes her eyes, trying to remember and forget at the same time." ~ Carmen Schober

After She Falls is an action-packed novel that will not only surprise you but leave you wanting more. One of Bethany House’s edgiest books; I loved how real and honest the characters and storyline were. With an underlying faith theme that shines brighter as the plot unravels, the author doesn't shy away from showcasing her characters' lifestyles and choices as each of them navigates success, love, pain, faith, anger, forgiveness, and brokenness.

I thoroughly enjoyed Carmen Schober’s debut novel! While I have never been interested in MMA fighting, I have to admit that reading this book made me see the sport beyond the blood, sweat, and tears. Whenever Adri prepared to get into the ring, I felt my anticipation rise like I was gearing up to watch the match on TV rather than read the scenes on my Kindle.

Another thing that I really liked was that it wasn’t a “love at first sight” or quick transformation kind of book. Adri had a lot of healing to do after leaving her abusive marriage, and while it was clear there would be romance, the author spanned the book over a year rather than a couple of weeks or months — though the time jumps could be abrupt and often occur right when I wanted to know what was going to happen next. After She Falls was realistic and plainly showed the progression of a relationship built on faith and trust; however, there was still lots of room for growth and mistakes, making this book not feel preachy or perfect. I also LOVED Boom and thought his entrance into the storyline was fabulous!

Carmen Schober is an author to keep an eye on! She’s an underdog who delivered a knock-out debut novel that is sure to excite and surprise many!

*Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a pre-release copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own!*
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This book was inspiring, thoughtful, and very well written. I was drawn in right away and didn't want to put it down. 
I really enjoyed these characters. They felt real and the kind of people I would love to know in real life.
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First and foremost, I must start by saying that this is not an easy book to read by any means... for any one. I believe it is going to be especially difficult for anyone who has personally dealt with abuse, and could potentially be triggering for them. The opening scene of the book I think really draws us into that. I think it's an important story to tell... just one that might not be one that is easy for every person to read. 

Now, I must admit this isn't a book that I would typically pick up. I'm not really into MMA and fighting, or really sports of any type... so sports stories of any kind aren't going to be my first choice but I was drawn in by the description nonetheless. While it was certainly different for me in that regard, I thought the author did a great job of drawing the reader into the story regardless of whether they are into that or not with the compelling story at hand. It was a very good debut novel, and I look forward to seeing more from this author in the future.  

**I received a complimentary copy for consideration. All thoughts are my own.
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I had to think about this book after I read it before I could review it.  I had mixed feelings about the religious/Christian portion of the book along with the fighting part.  Adri leaves her home and dreams of being a professional fighter and gets married to a jerk who drinks and beats his wife.  She returns home with her daughter  when she decides it is an unsafe environment.  Her Uncle is so very happy to have her back and is determined to keep his niece safe.  Her ex love and training partner now owns his own gym and is still holding a place for Adri in his heart but he is still angry that she left him.  The story and the training for the fights was very interesting.  I just didn't feel the chemistry between Max and Adri.  They did forgive each other and become stronger in their relationship through their time training for big fights and also through their faith.  But I guess I don't understand how you can beat your opponent to a bloody mess when you consider yourself a devout Christian.

Thanks to #bethanyhouse, #netgalley, #carmenschober for an ARC of #Aftershefalls
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After She Falls by Carmen Schober, 368 pages. Bethany House Publishers, 2021. $16.
Language: PG (7 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: PG13
Twenty-five-year-old Adri wants to leave her mistakes behind when she moves back in with her uncle, but Sparta is too small a town to avoid those she knew before and the rumors running rampant now. As she starts boxing again and opens up about the last six years she’s been away, Adri makes a couple steps forward. However, the fear and mistakes that haunt her aren’t going away easily. Not without making Adri face her toughest fight yet.
On the one hand, Adri’s story is inspiring in that she chooses to go after her abandoned dreams even though they’re harder to reach now. On the other hand, I quickly got tired of the constant wishy-washiness of the main characters. They rehashed the same issue every other chapter, and I found it annoying. Setting the slow, repetitiveness of that issue aside, I liked how Adri’s story is as much about faith as it is about fighting. The mature content rating is for alcohol use, mentions of sex, and innuendo. The violence rating is for domestic violence and frequent MMA fighting.
Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen
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After She Falls was a challenging story to read as it dealt with some hard topics. Adri was an upcoming mixed-martial arts fighter before she fell in love with Owen. Their relationship was physically abusive and there wasn't any room for her dreams so she gave it up. 

When she walked away from him, she had to face all the people she had left behind and that had a lot of angst. There were some persons who were welcoming but in a lot of cases she had disappointed people or broken their hearts. 

I liked watching Adri grow in her faith and in her confidence as she trained to become a fighter again. Yet there were times when she annoyed me because she didn't seem to know her own mind. She wanted both Max and Owen and sent Max a lot of mixed signals. I also did not like that there was an element of cheating since her relationship with Max progressed beyond the borders of friendship while she was still married to Owen. 

Max also grew in his faith and his character matured over the course of this book. He went from "God doesn't exist" to "Jesus is my Savior" and it was done in a way that was realistic. He explored the idea of God, took the time to read the Bible and ask questions. 

The fights were described in gruesome detail which may be not be to everyone's taste, but gave the book a realistic feel. After She Falls was well-written and compelling. Readers will be reminded that God is real. He exists and we can trust Him even when bad things happen. 

I received an advanced reader's copy from the publisher through NetGalley; a positive review was not required.
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This is a great book.  Adri is running from her abusive husband and goes back to the small town where she grew up.  She gave up fighting (MMA) for her abusive husband.  She had trained for a lifetime to be a professional MMA Fighter and gave it all up because he career imploded.  Can she make a new life with her daughter and regain herself worth and find a new/old love?
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When Adri finds herself back in the hometown town she left behind the pursue her dreams of becoming a professional mixed marital artist after fleeing from a relationship she couldn't be in any more she comes face to face with someone from her past that had meant a lot to her. Her former best friend and training partner, Max. Who is the exact person who gives her a spark of hope when he offers her a job at a local gym.

In this the mountain town of Pennsylvania Adri is forced to face the people she left behind and put her broken life back together as a single mother. Second chances don't always come around, but if they do it's always important to grab ahold of them.

I loved the romance between former friends that meet again and have a second chance to have something special, and throughout the story Adri grows and heals from the things she has endured when she had been with her ex.

Thank you NetGalley for an arc of this novel.
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