Cover Image: After She Falls

After She Falls

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I have given After She Falls by Carmen Schober four out of five stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Trigger warnings: domestic abusive relationship

I would love to read more books by Carmen Schober in the future, I really enjoyed their writing and storytelling. 

I really liked the majority of the characters that we met in this book; they were likeable and well-developed. I had a lot of emotions towards our main character, Adri, throughout the book. We learn of her abusive relationship with her ex-husband at the beginning of the book and it was incredible to watch her grow as the story unfolded. The relationship between Adri and Max was so tense at times, they had a lot of past events they needed to iron out. 

I haven’t read a book that revolves around MMA before and was thoroughly intrigued by the fight scenes which were carried out in this book, it made my heart beat faster and I couldn’t wait to see how each fight was going to end. I would be lying if I said reading about the boxing-type sport didn’t interest me to look into possible classes in the future.

The only part which set me back from giving the full five stars were the gaps between chapters, sometimes it wasn’t mentioned how many months had gone by so it felt like I was playing catch up with the story.
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This was a good book with a strong message. Easy to read with relatable characters.  I would recommend!
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After She Falls by Carmen Schober is a 2021 Bethany House publication.

Adri’s life veered off course when she married the wrong guy. Her career as a mixed martial artist fell by the wayside and she found herself living in a vicious cycle of abuse. She finally wakes up and gathers up her courage to leave, returning home with her young daughter, Eva. From this time forward, Adri hopes to get her life back in order and her first order of business is getting right with God.

Along the way she reconnects with her former best friend, Max, with whom she also has romantic feelings for, and resurrects her dormant career, all while trying to cope with the ever-present threat her ex-husband might be considering.

I liked many things about this book. One, Adri gets herself and her daughter out of a bad situation which could only come to a tragic conclusion.

From there, Adri realizes her hope lies in her faith, and her spiritual growth is one of the most wonderful parts of this story.

The one thing I had mixed feelings about, though, was Adri's career as a mixed martial artist. I was intrigued by her occupation, and thought it made the premise sound a lot more intriguing- but I also don't really get the attraction of watching two people punch each other until one of them loses consciousness. But, my curiosity won out in the end.

Initially, I was a little surprised by some innuendo and actions of the characters which were not exactly the type of material, I’d have expected in a book marketed as Christian Fiction. On the other hand, as the story progressed, the messages became a little stronger, and I got a lot more about living a Christian life in this book than in my previous experiences with this genre, where the story might have been ‘clean’ but the ‘Christian’ part was barely detectable.

My one real complaint was that while categorized as a romance, I don’t think it truly fits into that category. There was the unspoken promise of relationship developments between Adri and Max, but that’s about it.

Mainly, the story is about Adri pulling her life and career back together, turning to her faith to steer her in the right direction, and committing herself fully to living a Christian life.

She still makes mistakes and errors in judgment, but eventually learns from her missteps- occasionally the hard way- but her will is strong and she triumphs in the end.

Despite my reservations about the mixed martial arts career choice, I confess to feeling the adrenaline and excitement of the matches and found myself cheering Adri on. There was a 'Rocky' like atmosphere during those passages, and the author did a great job of stirring the reader's emotions.

Overall, this is a solid debut novel from this author. I liked the characters, the mostly sound, positive spiritual messages, as well as the unique premise of the story.
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After She Falls by Carmen Schober is an amazing debut novel. It deals with domestic violence, which could be very triggering for some. Set in the world for martial arts, the author created a setting unlike any I have experienced before. I think the plot and romance were well executed, especially for a debut novel. However, I found the novel hard to get into. Overall, it was a great book. I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher with no obligations. These opinions are entirely my own.
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This book was refreshing, I really enjoyed following the progression of the main character. Adri is a fighter - literally and figuratively. When the reader first meets her she is desperate - desperate enough to flee from her abusive husband and return to the home of her uncle. She and her young daughter find refuge there, but Adri is worried about returning to the place that she fled from as a teenager. She burned a lot of bridges when she left town suddenly and never looked back - but the biggest one with with Max. Max and Adri used to be best friend, and even more, but when she left to join the fighting circuit and married her ex-husband, She broke Max's heart, but now he may be the only one who can help her. Max runs a gym in town Adri's skill as a mixed martial arts fighter is her best chance for making a living. But can she work for Max? And how does all of this fit into her new found desire to follow God's leading?
I really enjoyed this story, it's definitely not a cookie cutter romance. Max and Adri have a lot of baggage to work through, and I even enjoyed learning more about mixed martial arts fighting, which is something I have never even watched before. Adri and Max were real and believable, and since I wanted them to succeed I got caught up in the story. I look forward to seeing more books from this author, and I would definitely recommend this one.
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This is a difficult novel to rate. 

One of the things I value most in a novel is that it is realistic.  While I don't know much about MMA, the author has knowledge in this area and nothing led me to believe the details about training and fighting were off base.  It was interesting to get a glimpse into that world.  What disturbed me and I don't know if this is typical or not, is that the main character's daughter, Eva, watched a number of the fights.  Eva is elementary school age and I would think this would be traumatic for a child that age to see her parent get pummeled.  

I enjoy reading a novel in which a woman in an abusive relationship is able to escape.  Adri does escape early on in the pages and thankfully has a wonderful support system.  The interactions with Adri and Owen seemed plausible given their volatile relationship.

The yo-yo romance between Adri and Max was perhaps realistic, but got tiresome quickly.  The way this ended was satisfying thankfully.

There is a very brief bit of animal cruelty at the beginning of the novel which I believe could have been removed.

Overall, an interesting read, but one I would be hesitant to recommend.
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With an opening chapter which included animal and spousal abuse, this was definitely an edgier Christian novel. Then add on a lot of mentions of overnight hookups, this was a dangerous edgy story. I continued reading/or listening to this story with the hope of redemption for the characters.

Did I get it? In some ways yes for certain characters, and in some ways no. I would have liked a more in depth view in the characters' road to God and becoming new, and I did not feel like I totally got that.

There was a lot of fighting scenes, lots of mentions of blood and broken bones, so, probably not a book for everyone. Those scenes did not bother me, since I know before hand what the subject matter would be. What did bother me was allowing children watch the fights - even if it was a parent fighting - that just did not feel totally appropriate.
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As I began reading this book, I was introduced to many things, including some unforgettable characters and a sweet romance or two. Once I was introduced, I was quickly drawn into the compelling and satisfying storyline.

Before reading this book, I knew very little about the culture and community of MMA fighters. I now have a better understanding and maybe even a bit of appreciation for this sport.

So many good themes running throughout this book…choices and their consequences, forgiveness and second chances, finding and relying on faith and working hard towards a goal.

This novel was gritty at times and authentic throughout. Some scenes caused me to gasp and worry, while others caused me to cheer and root for the underdog. I loved so many of the characters! They were well-developed and so well-connected. Extended family became nuclear family and friends became chosen family. Love that!

I received a complimentary copy of this book through NetGalley from Bethany House Publishers along with a paperback copy. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.
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After She Falls by Carmen Schober offers an intense, entertaining story that had me cheering for Adri until the end. I enjoyed this book and would read it again in the future, but I must note a few aspects of this novel.

First, After She Falls features lots of romantic tension between Adri and Max as it is a second-chance romance with two characters who have lots of history together. There’s attraction, betrayal, anger, and a deep, sometimes inconvenient, connection between Max and Adri. The powerful emotions avoid angst, but sometimes the tension overpowered other aspects in the novel. 

Second, After She Falls tells Adri and Max’s story in third-person present tense. Occasionally, awkward wording pulled me out of the story, but this style shined during the fight sequences by depicting the actions in a quick, live-action way. Adri’s goal as an MMA fighter involves multiple fight scenes with punching, grappling, and bleeding. 

Third, the first chapter in After She Falls by Carmen Schober depicts domestic violence. The unpleasant happenings effectively hooked my attention and made me sympathetic toward Adri. However, the presence of DV situations could be a trigger for DV survivors. 

Wrapping up this review, I want to mention the beautiful themes of bravery, finding strength, and growing in resilience that are present in After She Falls by Carmen Schober. I loved how Adri strengthened her body, mind, and emotions. Quotable phrases peppered the narrative and I’ll leave one here: “Reconciliation involves an exchange in a relationship – exchanging brokenness and war for harmony and peace.”

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a copy of this book by the author or publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.
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A breath of fresh air. There are not really any books that deal with MMA, much less with women as the focus. Carmen Shober introduces us to parts of this world with Adri Rivera, a strong willed, highly talented, and beaten-down fighter. I loved the way Adri wrestled through her faith, talents, and desires. Mature subjects (trigger alert: domestic abuse) are handled in a straightforward way that represents what many new, older believers wrestle with as they come to faith. Max adds a layer of depth and dimension that is just right for drawing out Adri. I love how they balanced and complimented each other. The supporting characters are perfect for rounding out the story and adding some humor, compassion, friendship, and hope. There are some tough topics that deal with who we are before we come to know the Lord and poor choices, but the power of redemption, grace and freedom in being a new creation are stronger and weave a gripping tale. 
I received a complimentary copy from the publisher via NetGalley and all opinions expressed are solely my own, freely given.
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When I saw a lot of people talking about this book, I decided to read it even though it was different than what I normally read. There were a lot of things I liked about the book but also some things that just didn't work for me. 

I really liked Uncle Roman and the faith, advice, and encouragement he gave Adri. I admired Adri for finding the strength to leave her abusive husband and go back home to make a better life for her and her daughter. I did appreciate that the author tackled such a hard topic. I was glad to see that Adri was seeking a closer relationship with God. 

I didn't really connect with either of the main characters. I especially didn't care for Max and that there was so much casual talk about drinking, bars, etc. Max was not interested in God at first and then when he did show interest, it didn't quite seem believable to me. The main thing that I didn't like was that the book was written in the present tense. 

I wanted to love this book, and I do still think overall it was a good debut novel, but it wasn't the book for me. 

**I was given a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions expressed are my own.**
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After reading this one I'm still not sure how I feel about it. While it was well written and I enjoyed the MMA parts of it and Eva. I never really warmed up to Adri. I also didn't get most of the choices that she made.   Especially staying with Owen.  Because he wasn't the reason she didn't have her support system she was the one who cut off contact with her uncle and friends back home. I understand while women in abusive relationship don't leave in real especially when kids are involved is because that's the most dangerous time for them. However in the book Adri I had plenty of chances  but she kept putting it off.  And it seem like all she had to do was call her uncle and he would have came running.  So no I never warmed up to Adri.
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This was a very interesting read. I don't follow fighting or really know anything about it so it was interesting to read about. I think my favorite part was her dedication to her sport and her tenacity to win.

This book deals with some pretty hard topics and is quite violent so be warned.

I truthfully would have liked a little more romance, but overall it was still a good story - just not what I would classify as a romance.

I received an advanced copy of this book through NetGalley. This is my honest review.
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Wow, what an impressive debut! This cover and book description definitely piqued my interest because it seemed so different from what I had seen in the Christian fiction arena. This story is real and gritty and, at times, not pretty. Adri made some major mistakes and she's paid the price but she is trying to find her way back--emotionally, physically, and spiritually. I liked that the author includes meaningful spiritual content, not shying away from the questions and struggles that people have about Christianity. Maybe I am reading too much into this story but I thought it was about sanctification. Now that Adri is a Christian, how does she live her life, to become more like Christ in all aspects--even when she is tempted to fall back into her old patterns, makes mistakes along the way, and is reminded of her past mistakes? It doesn't help that her childhood friend, Max, is a source of constant temptation. Adri's physical training seems to parallel her spiritual one and with each winning bout, she seems to be putting off more of her old self. Max is definitely the strong, silent (and angry) type but that was why his spiritual arc was rewarding. I liked all the secondary characters, especially Boom! I wish the author would write a sweet story about him. For sensitive readers, this book includes scenes of domestic violence, description of MMA fights, drinking, and sensual content (not explicit but inferred). Some reviewers didn't like that it was written in the present tense but I didn't have a problem with it. This story surprised me, in a good way. I look forward to more from this author!
* I received a copy free of charge from Netgalley.
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I’m not into fighting and/or watching people fight on T.V. but I have to say I am a Rocky fan. The story of seeing an underdog work hard for the opportunity of a lifetime is fascinating. I like seeing the determination and how a person gives it their all to achieve a goal. I enjoyed the Rocky movie references throughout the book. Likewise, I also enjoyed the fact the main character Adri Rivera loves the Rocky movies too. It was fun to read. I liked this insight into the author who says before chapter one starts, “To my younger, fear-fitted self; You will fall sometimes, and it will hurt. But God is fighting alongside you. Trust Him.” This caught my attention and touched my heart. It sets the tone of the story.

I was first drawn in by the cover, and then I wanted to check out this author’s writing style. I was hooked from the first page and the first line, “Mama, why does Jesus carry the lamb around his head? Doesn’t it itch his neck?” 
“I don’t know, butterfly. Maybe the lamb likes being carried like that?”

My heart melted by this interchange between mother and child. The scene quickly changes. I hoped the author didn’t stay in the unhealthy situation for too long. Readers enter the story when Adri has had enough of the abuse and is ready for a change. 

This author takes readers on an incredible life-changing journey of healing, family unity, friendship, and learning to trust in God and forgive yourself. This author is a boxer, which explains the richness of the fights, training and everything in between.

I also liked the way the author naturally introduces her spiritual thread, starting with loving people where they are at. Then waiting for them to ask questions and love them through the tough times and encouraging them all the way. All the while showing love, giving grace and mercy. Loved that. It’s a heart-warming, life-changing story you don’t want to miss. This is an author to watch, and this book would work well for your book club.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have received a complimentary copy of this book by the publisher through NetGalley. 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!
The Book Club Network blog www.bookfun.org
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While I did find this one interesting, it wasn't at all what I had expected when I first picked it up. The POV is odd, in part because we are seeing that character's life play out in real time, and also because most language and dialogue is done in a part tense, making the switch between past and present each time a character spoke felt a bit choppy.

I will give it to the author, Carmen Schober does a wonderful job with a writing style that is rarely used, and manages to keep her tenses straight throughout the story! No small feat, that!

Still, considering that this one does deal with abuse, seeing things happen 'as they happen' was a bit jarring at first! I also didn't find the story line and some of the events to be as believable or realistic as I'd hoped upon starting this one. Some things just felt too easy, or seemed to happen (or go away) too quickly. And others were harder to read with the tense, themes like abuse and brokenness taking on a heavier hand when read as they are happening to the character /as/ you read them.

I did like that it was original and a unique way of looking at and experiencing a story, but just wish it had feel more believable and that the story was a bit stronger, nor relying so much on the unique writing style, but actually having enough detail and focus to stand on it's own, the writing style should make the story better, but shouldn't be the only thing making the story stand out.
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This is not your typical Christian romance book.  It is gritty and raw.  It deals with sensitive issues like domestic abuse, partying, and violence.   It's realistic for some people and hard to imagine for others. Yet it shows how faith can help a person get through the nastiness of life.  Both Adri and Max have big issues.  Yet they learn and listen and grow.  They have some amazing people in their lives who are great examples and who live out their faith. 

While I've never watched Mixed Martial Arts, this book brought back memories of time with my dad watching Sugar Ray Leonard boxing.  It was fascinating.  The fight scenes were vivid.  I felt I could see every punch or kick.   It was well written. 

I enjoyed the book but didn't find Adri to be very relatable. She was very hot and cold, on and off, in the way she treated Max.  It got to be a little too much for me at times. 
I don't think this book is for everyone.  The violence may be hard for some but I think it's a great debut novel on a fresh topic.  I hope there'll be another book about Skye and Enzo.   

Thank you to Bethany House for providing me with a copy of this book.  It had me putting on my robe and throwing a few shadow punches at the mirror.  All opinions are my own.
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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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Wow.

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. 

4stars
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