About this book: When Juliet Cole’s husband of fifteen years is murdered before her eyes, she thinks it was a random shooting. Devastated and traumatized, she answers hours of questioning, then returns home to break the tragic news to her boys. But a threatening voicemail takes this from a random shooting to a planned, deliberate attack. Juliet realizes that she and her children are in danger too, unless she meets the killers’ demands. But as she and her sisters untangle the clues, her husband’s dark secrets come to light. The more she learns, the more of her life is dismantled. Was her husband an innocent victim or a hardened criminal?
About the author: (from the Litfuse website) Terri Blackstock has sold over six million books worldwide and is a New York Times bestselling author. She is the award-winning author of Intervention, Vicious Cycle, and Downfall, as well as such series as Cape Refuge, Newpointe 911, the SunCoast Chronicles, Restoration, and Moonlighters. Connect with her online at TerriBlackstock.com.
Judge this book by its cover? Perfect: slightly sinister with dark hints of the novel’s riveting opening scene
If this book were a movie, I would rate it: PG. Though it contains mature themes (murder, adultery), every word on the page is family friendly.
Reminds me of… Brandilyn Collins, Richard Mabry
You’ll want to buy this book if … you enjoy stories of suspense paired with a strong faith message.
Why did I read this book? As a Litfuse blogger, for Zondervan for review
Would I read another by this author? Probably not; I’ve read a few of her novels and now conclude that they are not to my particular taste. But her NYT Bestselling status shows that many feel otherwise. See what other Litfuse bloggers are saying here.
My take: If you are a Terri Blackstock fan, you probably already know a bit of her history. Once a highly successful romance novelist in the secular publishing industry, she experienced a spiritual awakening and decided to quit writing mainstream novels in order to write inspirational ones. She also chose to change genres from romance to suspense. As a result, she now writes intricately plotted suspense novels that carry a strong Christian message.
Distortion, the second in her Moonlighters series, opens with a compelling, attention-grabbing scene. Dark twists and turns follow, but I have to admit that my credibility was stretched to discover that this story featured the third murder in a few years within one extended family. Though in time this unlikelihood was tied together, the explanation still didn’t ring true for me. Then too, the overt spiritual message felt too churchy for my taste. Nonetheless, I was impressed by the degree to which the author was willing to let her characters suffer (that’s harder for a writer than you might think), and this story does possess a satisfying, hopeful ending that is sure to please Terri Blackstock’s many fans.
Thanks to Zondervan for providing me a free copy to review. All opinions are mine.
Distortion releases March 11th, and Terri will be kicking off the release with a fun Facebook Distortion party and giving away a Kindle Fire HDX. PLUS readers can pre-order the ebook for just $4.99 before 3/11 everywhere ebooks are sold.
One winner will receive:
A brand new Kindle Fire HDX
Distortion and Truth Stained Liesby Terri Blackstock
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends tomorrow, March 11th. Winner will be announced at the Distortion Facebook Party on March 11th. Connect with Terri for a “suspenseful” book launch party with prizes, a book chat, and more.
Don’t miss a moment of the fun; RSVP today by clicking JOIN on the event page. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 11th!
About this book: You’ve said it a dozen times before: If only you had the chance, you would write a chick lit novel. But between job, boyfriend, kids, school — life — you just can’t find the time.
The Chick Lit Cookbook: A Guide to Writing Your Novel in 30 Minutes a Day is the solution. This fun, cupcake-themed guide will take you from start to finish of your first draft. In 13 chapters, each with a short exercise that will get you writing now, you will learn how to create the perfect main character, her ideal love interest, a world for her to live in and an adventure that will draw in readers. You will outline your entire first draft — and then you will write it.
The Chick Lit Cookbook is a beginner’s guide to writing funny, snappy, sucks-you-into-the-story prose about modern women, life and love. It is full of tips and techniques, prompts and pep talks that will spark your imagination and inspire you to put pen to paper. The exercises can be done while sitting on the bus, waiting at the doctor’s office, or talking on the phone with your mother-in-law. This book will show you that you can and will write a chick lit novel.
Whether you’ve been wishing for years that you could write chick lit or are a brand-new fan of Bridget Jones and Becky Bloomwood, you owe it to yourself to pick up this guide. The Chick Lit Cookbook will prove to you that writing a novel can be fun and easy — it’s just like baking cupcakes!
About the author: In addition to being an aspiring chick lit novelist, Alicia de los Reyes is a freelance writer, editor, and teacher who writes about religion and American subcultures, among other things. She lives in Seattle with her husband and cat. Connect with her online at aliciadelosreyes.wordpress.com.
Judge this book by its cover? Hmm…I find the cover rather meh, actually–unlike the copy, which is full of personality and pizzazz. So no–don’t judge this book by its cover. It’s much better than that.
You’ll want to buy this book if … you have even an iota of ambition to write a chick lit novel. This artfully written how-to will give you just the leg-up you need to start–and finish–your project.
Why did I read this book? Well, I’ll tell you: the author contacted me and asked very nicely if I’d consider reviewing it, even though I don’t normally review e-books, self-published books, or how-to’s–all of which hers is. But Alicia de los Reyes had clearly read my review policy page, and because her query was so polished, and because she presented such compelling reasons for why it might be worth my time, and because I found the title and idea so appealing, I said yes.
Would I read another by this author? I would, if only for the fun of seeing how she puts her own good advice to work.
My take: The beauty of this book is its super-tight focus: How to write chick lit in 30 minutes a day. Not: how to write a thriller or mystery or YA (though this is so well done that aspiring novelists of almost any genre would find much to learn). Not: how to publish your chick lit novel (though if you follow de los Reyes’ advice, publication would stand a much better chance). Not: how to quit your day job in order to devote every waking hour to the writing of your novel. No, de los Reyes makes achieving this particular dream imminently do-able. Gotta love that.
I also like the title, though it threw me a little at first. A cookbook? Then I got it. Ah, a book that shows how to cook a chick lit novel. Clever! And then her enticing cupcake theme carries the idea through from start to finish. It works–and gave me a hankering for a visit to Cupcake Royale.
The author spells out that chick lit (as a genre) assumes a concluding kiss–and often something more. FYI, De los Reyes freely includes the “something more” in her instruction, also making room for the possibility of same-sex and transgender love interests.
I found The Chick Lit Cookbook to be a remarkably fresh take on the business of writing a novel. As one who has attended her fair share of writing classes and read even more how-to-write-a-book books, I can tell you that this one is unique. De los Reyes provides consistently insightful instruction, even including some helpful graphs and charts to clarify her points. Then she backs up her theory and technique with concrete examples–both from her own notebooks and from familiar, published chick lit novels–to help spark creativity. Throughout, the author’s tone is confident and fun–altogether pitch-perfect.
Thanks to Alicia de los Reyes for providing me a free copy to review. All opinions are mine.
Now your turn: Raise your hand if you’ve ever started or wanted to start writing a novel. If it never saw the light of day, what became of it? If you started, why did you stop? If you had the right how-to book, would you consider trying again?
By the way, if you think de los Reyes’ The Chick Lit Cookbookis what you need to get you started on your own novel, you can purchase a copy here.
A couple of months ago I attended a social media conference and sat in on a couple of classes taught by an engaging new voice in the writerly world. Her name is Melissa K. Norris, and I’m delighted to feature her here today.
Melissa is a wearer of many hats: a Christian fiction novelist, newspaper columnist, blogger, and speaker. She writes on what inspires her–and hopefully others–to grow closer to God and our pioneer roots. She also hosts a weekly radio show, Pioneering Today, featured on KSVU radio and as a podcast. She has a passion for helping people find God’s presence in their lives. She and her husband live with their two children, five cows, a dog and a cat, in rural Washington. She enjoys wake boarding, gardening, reading, camping, and engaging with readers online at melissaknorris.com.
Do you wish you had the time to offer your family home-grown meals?
Does your heart silently cry for a quiet place in this fast paced life?
In Pioneering Today-Faith and Home the Old Fashioned Way, author Melissa K. Norris explains practical and easy methods to cook from scratch, garden, preserve your own food, and see God’s fingerprint in your everyday busy life. You’ll learn how to:
Decrease your grocery and energy bill
Improve your family’s health by cooking from scratch and over 40 delicious recipes
Grow and preserve your own food
Reduce your time in the kitchen without sacrificing taste and nutrition
Expand your view of God in your daily activities
Whether you live in the middle of the asphalt jungle or on the side of a mountain, you can experience the pioneer lifestyle and start your own homesteading journey. When you surround yourself with things made from the hand of God, you can’t help but see Him.
Melissa, welcome to Story Matters. “Inspiring your faith and pioneer roots” lies at the heart of what you write, and yet you strike me as a pretty modern girl. Why the fascination with homesteading and the pioneering lifestyle?
I grew up living the pioneer lifestyle. It wasn’t until I was older I realized not everyone grew their own food, raised their own beef, and canned a lot of their own food supply. My mother read me the Little House on the Prairie series and I fell in love with the pioneers and the olden days. But I do like to dress up every now and then, and after going without power for almost two weeks, I like certain modern conveniences. I’m a girl who feeds the cows but also wants a little bit of sparkle on her blue jeans when she’s in the barnyard.
I hope they realize God is there with them in their every day mundane tasks. He’s waiting for us to notice Him and allow Him to be part of the small things, not just big the moments. I hope they realize they can take little steps towards a healthier lifestyle from the way they cook their meals, to growing some of their own food, and the products we use to clean our homes.
You grow your own food and prepare it from scratch. In what other ways do you personally embrace the pioneering lifestyle?
The pioneer lifestyle is a mindset, not a geographical place. So I look at how I can reuse things, re-purpose something, or do something more frugally. I’ll often see something at a store and then try to figure out how to make it myself at home, from repainting our coffee table to inventing a new recipe. And the pioneers knew how important it was to support one another, because stores and help weren’t just a call away. We try to help our neighbors and family in small ways, to foster relationships with the people around us.
In addition to being a woman who knows how to live off the land, you are a wife, mom to two kids, novelist, blogger, part-time social media consultant, radio host and speaker. Which begs the question: what is your best time-management technique?
Can you see me laughing right now? I often feel like I have a hard time staying caught up. I have to prioritize for the day and learn I can’t do it all. I know what I must do and focus on that. Then get to the rest when I can. I used to get disappointed when I couldn’t get as much done as I wanted in a day. Then I realized no one could do everything I had down on my list. Being realistic is very important. And I rarely watch television.
I make my home in the suburbs and know nothing of gardening and canning. How can I make your ideas work for me?
That’s the beauty of a lot of what I teach and write about. Pioneering Today can be done anywhere. You can grow herbs on your window sill and make your own cleaning supplies very easily. Anyone can practice making something from scratch in the kitchen that you used to buy from the store. If you can’t grow your own food, you can buy from a local farmer or farmer’s market. Purchasing foods in season is key for best pricing. And then preserving it at home, be it dehydrating, freezing, or canning. To make jams, jellies, syrups and pickles, you don’t need a pressure-cooker canner, just the jars, lids, and bands, and a pot big enough to hold the jars and enough water to cover the jars by a couple of inches.
Thank you for sharing your ideas with us today, Melissa!
About this book: The first time Eby Pim saw Lost Lake, it was on a picture postcard. Just an old photo and a few words on a small square of heavy stock, but when she saw it, she knew she was seeing her future.
That was half a life ago. Now Lost Lake is about to slip into Eby’s past. Her husband George is long passed. Most of her demanding extended family are gone. All that’s left is a once-charming collection of lakeside cabins succumbing to the Southern Georgia heat and damp, and an assortment of faithful misfits drawn back to Lost Lake year after year by their own unspoken dreams and desires.
It’s a lot, but not enough to keep Eby from relinquishing Lost Lake to a developer with cash in hand, and calling this her final summer at the lake. Until one last chance at family knocks on her door.
Lost Lake is where Kate Pheris spent her last best summer at the age of twelve, before she learned of loneliness, and heartbreak, and loss. Now she’s all too familiar with those things, but she knows about hope too, thanks to her resilient daughter Devin, and her own willingness to start moving forward. Perhaps at Lost Lake her little girl can cling to her own childhood for just a little longer… and maybe Kate herself can rediscover something that slipped through her fingers so long ago.
One after another, people find their way to Lost Lake, looking for something that they weren’t sure they needed in the first place: love, closure, a second chance, peace, a mystery solved, a heart mended. Can they find what they need before it’s too late?
About the author: Sarah Addison Allen is the New York Times bestselling author of Garden Spells, The Peach Keeper and many others. She lives in Asheville, North Carolina, where she was born and raised. Visit her online at sarahaddisonallen.com.
Genre: Fiction/Women’s Fiction/Southern Lit
Judge this book by its cover? If you find it enchanting, then yes.
If this book were a movie, I would rate it: Mainly PG. A swear or two.
Reminds me of… The Lake of Dreams by Kim Edwards
You’ll want to buy this book if … you like Southern Lit. Fans of Sarah Addison Allen might also be especially eager to read this first offering following her battle with advanced-stage breast cancer. (In her acknowledgements, she reports that she is in her second year of remission.)
Why did I read this book? As a She Reads blogger; Lost Lake is their Book Club pick of the month.
Would I read another by this author? Surely.
My take: Though I’ve previously read and enjoyed several novels by Sarah Addison Allen, it took me a while to get into this one. It may have been a matter of timing. For me, the Southern summer setting would have made an ideal read for July or August rather than mid-winter (a feeling that was perhaps compounded by the fact that I read this over a hockey tournament weekend in eastern Washington where it was, yes, snowing). Early on, I wasn’t feeling the story’s urgency, and the conflict felt muted. But then I read this line: “[Jack] was craggy and athletic, with lines like parentheses around his mouth, as if everything he wanted to say was an afterthought.” And I was reminded of what I enjoy so much about this author and knew I couldn’t give up on this story, not when she is capable of writing such as that.
So now I’m here to tell you, I’m awfully glad I stuck with it. Soon after reading the above passage, I was completely hooked, craving a happy ending, so that on the long car ride home from the tourney, I was racing to finish the book before fading daylight forced my hand.
This is a story about finding what you thought was lost, and the wonder and magic of childhood. I enjoyed how each lovingly crafted character tells a piece of the story. And how each of them (with perhaps the sole exception of the child, Devin) has some growing up to do.
In the end, it’s a lovely, wistful tale with just the right kind of magic tossed in to give it sparkle and leave the reader with hope.
Thanks to St. Martin’s Press for providing me a free copy to review. All opinions are mine.
Be sure to stop by She Reads through the end of this week for your chance to win a copy of Lost Lake (where you can also see what other bloggers are saying). You may also be interested in Waking Kate, a short-story prequel to this novel available as a free e-book from Amazon.
About this book: Longinus is a Roman centurion haunted by death and failure. Desperate to escape the accursed Judean province, he accepts a wager. If he can catch the thieves harassing the marketplace before Passover, he’ll earn a transfer away from the troublemaking Jews.
Nissa is a Jewish woman with a sharp tongue and no hope of marriage. Only with the help of Mouse, the best thief in Jerusalem, can she keep her blind brother, Cedron, fed and a roof over their heads.
When a controversial teacher miraculously heals Cedron, Longinus longs to learn more about the mysterious healer. Instead, his journey leads him to Nissa, whose secret will determine the course of both their futures.
Unexpectedly caught up in the arrest, trial, and crucifixion of Jesus, they wonder who this teacher is who heals others but does nothing to save himself. Is the mercy he offers in his teachings real, or just another false promise? Can Nissa and Longinus overcome their pasts to find a future free of their shackles?
About the author: (from Litfuse Publicity) Stephanie Landsem loves adventure in far-off times and places. In real life, she’s explored ancient ruins, medieval castles, and majestic cathedrals around the world. Stephanie is equally happy at home in Minnesota with her husband, four children, and three fat cats. When she’s not writing, she’s feeding the ravenous horde, avoiding housework, and dreaming about her next adventure—whether it be in person or on the page. Find out more about Stephanie at http://www.stephanielandsem.com.
Judge this book by its cover? I love this cover, with its warm, ancient hues and imagery; it’s one of the reasons I was persuaded to try this 1st-century historical novel, which normally I don’t gravitate to. The cover art perfectly captures the tone and content of the story.
If this book were a movie, I would rate it: PG-13 for realistic (but never gratuitous) depictions of violence.
Reminds me of… Brock and BodieThoene’s When Jesus Wept and A.D. Chronicles series; Francine Rivers’ Mark of the Lion and Sons of Encouragement series
You’ll want to buy this book if … you like fictionalized re-tellings of New Testament tales, finding that they breathe fresh life into familiar stories. Find out what other bloggers are saying HERE. (Click the REVIEWS bar.)
Why did I read this book? As a Litfuse blogger, for Howard Books for review
Would I read another by this author? In a heartbeat
My take: One of the first things that struck me about this novel was its bounty of detail and description of first-century Palestine. I also appreciated how, from the start, it introduced fresh ideas about this long-ago Jewish culture that I’d never before considered: a Jewish father with a gambling problem, a mother with an alcohol addiction. It brought a contemporary, relevant feel to the female main character’s problems.
Also from the start, I liked very much that the centurion, Longinus, was not your typical (stereotypical?) Italian/Roman but one from the farther reaches of the empire; he has red hair, blue eyes, fair skin and freckles. I found Nissa, the female Jewish protagonist, equally original and winsome in her own prickly way.
Personally, I found Landsem’s style and story even more engaging than the writings of other giants of 1st-century historical fiction I’ve read. Rarely have I found a novel with more intricate plotting and skillful tightening of the tension, which still managed to stay within the bounds of Scripture. So desperately did I want things to turn out well for Longinus and Nissa, despite the seemingly impossible odds, that I found it nearly impossible to resist turning to end to see how the author resolved their problems. But I did resist. Barely. And was not disappointed.
All in all, a most impressive feat.
Thanks to Howard Books for providing me a free copy to review. All opinions are mine.
Now your turn: What do you think about fictionalizing Bible stories? Does is enhance your understanding or distract from it?
Also, be sure to stop by Stephanie Landsem’s website, where she’s hosting a Kindle Fire HDX and book giveaway. CLICK THE BUTTON on the right to find out more and enter to win.
“…a delightful read, full of enough ups and downs to keep readers cheering for the characters and hoping for a happy ending.” ~ Lauraine Snelling, author of Breaking Free and The Red River of the North series
Friends, had to let you know about this chance to pick up a charming, contemporary romance as an e-book for free today and tomorrow only. I’ve known the author, Sherri Sand, since we met several years ago at a writers conference in California, and I can tell you that she has a heart overflowing with love and wisdom. The great news for readers is that she is also a gifted writer, which means that her wise insights and deep compassion show up on every page of her debut novel, Leave It to Chance.
About the author: Sherri Sand is an author and speaker. She is gifted in the prophetic and has a passion to teach and lead others into freedom from the pain and lies that keep people from walking in wholeness. Sherri and her family reside in beautiful Northeastern Oregon. You can connect with her online at sherrisand.com.
About the book: Single mom of three, Sierra Montgomery is desperate to find a new job to keep from having to move back home and be smothered to death by her mother’s good intentions and overbearing love. So when Sierra inherits Chance, a quirky old gelding she doesn’t have a clue what to do with, she thinks her best bet may be to sell the horse to cover another month’s rent -— a decision that devastates her children.
Enter Ross Morgan, a handsome landscaper who just happens to have an empty barn and fenced pasture … perfect for an old horse to live out his days as the pet of three wounded kids. Ross develops a soft spot for eldest child Braden and he just might have one for Braden’s mother. But what he doesn’t have is time for distractions —— he’s got a landscaping business to run and nursery plants to tend.
But Sierra has a secret. She’s terrified of horses and -— thanks to her past -— wary of attractive men. Yet seeing the way her angry son idolizes Ross and adores that old horse forces Sierra to confront her fears. Will she remain distrustful and self-reliant, or will she seek help from God and those who love her?
Click here to get your free e-book February 24 and 25 only. After that, you can still purchase it for only $1.99 at any major online retailer between now and August 26, 2014.
About this book: Published to coincide with the 50th anniversary of C. S. Lewis’s death, this complete guide covers all of Lewis’ works, from his literary criticism to Narnia
C. S. Lewis’s work is widely known and regarded, but enthusiasts are often only aware of one part of his work—his children’s stories and his popular theology; and yet he wrote so much more, including science fiction and literary criticism. This volume brings together all aspects of C S Lewis’s life and thought. Arranged in alphabetical order, it begins with The Abolition of Man—written in 1943 and described as “almost my favorite”—to Wormwood, a character in The Screwtape Letters. This book will delight anyone who is interested in C. S. Lewis and wants to learn more about him, his thought, his works, and his life.
About the author:For many years Colin Duriez was an editor at Inter-Varsity Press UK. He later appeared as a commentator on DVDs of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings, and BBC television’s The Worlds of Fantasy. He is also the author of The Inklings Handbook (with the late David Porter), J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis: The Story of Their Friendship, and Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings. He has also contributed to definitive reference works relating to Tolkien such as The Tolkien Encyclopedia (Routledge).
Judge this book by its cover? Yup. Pretty much covers it.
You’ll want to buy this book if … you or someone you know is a fan of C.S. Lewis, whether it be his science fiction, children’s stories, literary criticism or apologetics. This tome is a bit pricey, perhaps, at $24.99 for the hardcover, but it would nonetheless be a worthwhile add to any serious C.S. Lewis collection. You can read what other bloggers are saying about A-Zhere.
Why did I read this book? As a Litfuse blogger, for Revell/Lion Hudson for review
Would I read another by this author? Sure.
My take: Not the usual kind of book I review here (really, a reference?), but because it related to C.S. Lewis, I couldn’t resist. Even so, I didn’t expect to be so easily sucked into this book…but I was. As a devotee of the life and writings of C.S. Lewis from the time I was nine–starting with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (natch),progressing through all of the Chronicles of Narnia; then in college being amazed by his brilliant thinking in his books on the subject of Christianity; and then, after marriage, being enthralled by the riveting (if not entirely factual) portrayal of his marriage to Joy Davidson Lewis in the movie Shadowlands; to, as a writer, being intrigued by his relationship with his fellow Inklings–the man has long since claimed my fascination and admiration.
All of which is to say that I’ve been a follower for some time and yet didn’t know how much I didn’t know. But, just as in The Last Battle when Aslan leads his faithful children “higher up and deeper in”, so I found myself drawn into this book: into the cross-references and obscure details I’d never before uncovered. An hour slipped quickly away as I flipped from page to page. And I came away from it even more impressed with the breadth and depth of this man.
A terrific addition to the collection of any C. S. Lewis devotee.
Thanks to Revell/Lion Hudson for providing me a free copy to review. All opinions are mine.
Now your turn: What was your first experience with one of the works of C.S. Lewis? Which is your favorite…and why?
About this book: The Civil Rights Movement is less than a distant memory to Lisa Waldren—it is someone else’s memory altogether, passed on to her through the pages of history. Her life as a federal prosecutor in Boston feels utterly remote from the marches in the South that changed her father’s generation—and the entire nation—forever.
But the truth is, she was there.
When a photograph surfaces showing a blond, four-year-old Lisa playing with an African-American girl at a civil rights march in Fort Worth, Lisa is faced with a jarring revelation: the girls may have been the only witnesses who observed the killer of civil rights leader Benjamin Gray . . . and therefore the only ones who can exonerate the death row inmate falsely accused of the murder.
Soon, Lisa finds herself in the dangerous world her father had shielded her from as a child. After some searching, the Waldrens find the other little girl from the photo and, in the process, uncover conspiracy mere steps away from the likes of Bobby Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and J. Edgar Hoover.
About the author: (from her website, liswiehlbooks.com) Lis Wiehl is one of the nation’s most prominent trial lawyers and highly regarded commentators. Currently, she is the legal analyst and reporter on the Fox News Channel and Bill O’Reilly’s sparring partner in the weekly “Is It Legal?” segment on The O’Reilly Factor. Prior to that she was O’Reilly’s co-host on the nationally syndicated show The Radio Factor. She is also a Professor of Law at New York Law School. Her column “Lis on Law” appears weekly on FoxNews.com.
Prior to joining Fox News Channel in New York City, Wiehl served as a legal analyst and reporter for NBC News and NPR’s All Things Considered. Before that, Wiehl served as a Federal Prosecutor in the United States Attorney’s office.
Wiehl is also the author of The 51% Minority, which won the 2008 award for Books for a Better Life in the motivational category, and Winning Every Time. She lives in New York.
Genre: Fiction/Mystery & Detective/General
Judge this book by its cover? Perfect cover for the story. This, plus the story’s intriguing premise, is what drew me to read the book. The featured photograph, btw, was snapped by the author’s own G-man father and provided the inspiration for the story.
If this book were a movie, I would rate it: PG-13. Some violence.
Reminds me of… Lisa Scottoline
You’ll want to buy this book if …you enjoy novels that blend history with mystery, fact with fiction
Why did I read this book? As a BookSneeze blogger, for review
Would I read another by this author? jury’s still out
My take: Despite its compelling historical basis and smart, intricate plotting, Snapshot was one of those novels that failed to really capture me. It’s one of those cases where I wish I liked it more than I did because it really has so much going for it: great premise, interesting characters, a mystery that gets more mysterious as the story progresses. If you were to ask me for specifics, I’d say that sometimes the dialog felt a bit stiff, and the narrative lacked a certain, elusive gravitas that I find persuasive. I did, however, appreciate the nuanced portrayal broken family relationships–and the effect this had on many of the characters’ choices–as well as its layered themes of hope, reconciliation and forgiveness.
Thanks to Thomas Nelson for providing me a free copy to review. All opinions are mine.
Visit BookSneeze here and see what other reviewers are saying…
The title kinda catches your attention, doesn’t it? It certainly caught mine when I first saw it on a promo postcard I received in the mail a couple of months ago. But just as intriguing to me was the author of this new Bible study for women–Bette Nordberg. Bette has long been a favorite writer of mine. Read on and you’ll see why.
I first met Bette years ago when she was a guest speaker at a meeting of the Northwest Christian Writers Association. By then, I was already a fan, having devoured several of her fiction titles. She’s written more than 13 books, including Jeremiah, A Bright Light in a Dark Place, The First Hundred Days: a Devotional for New Believers, and several novels including the award-winning Serenity Bay, and Season of Grace. Like me, Bette lives in the Pacific Northwest. She and her husband, Kim, have been married for nearly 40 years and have four grown children. When she’s not writing or speaking, Bette enjoys knitting, playing the cello, and long-distance cycling. You can connect with her online at bettenordberg.com.
About this book: Adding sizzle to your married sexual relationship involves hundreds of decisions you make every day. In this easy-to-read study, you’ll learn how exclusivity plays a role in your sex life, realize how the media can contaminate your relationship, and discover the many ways you can add excitement and depth to your sex life. No matter where your marriage stands, you can use Biblical principles, medical science and contemporary wisdom to make a positive difference in your relationship. Recommended for young Christian women to study alone or in groups.
Q&A: Bette, welcome. Your latest book, Pure Sex, Great Sex: Discovering God’s Best for Marriage, possesses one of the main ingredients I seek in a good book: authenticity. You get very real within these pages as, with startling vulnerability, you share much of your own life, your own marriage. What allowed you to be so transparent with your readers?
Basically, I can’t help myself. I don’t have much patience with relationships when others are less than honest with me – or when I’m not allowed to be honest with others. As I look back over my life, those brutally honest moments are the ones where I’ve been catapulted forward in Christ. I don’t mean cruel moments; I mean moments where I can be honest about where I am – when I’m sad, disappointed, feeling lost or hopeless. Because honesty and transparency are critical values for me, they will always be part of my writing.
Transparency allows struggling readers to identify with you as a writer. That identification enables people to open up to your ideas and suggestions.
In this book your husband obviously factors into a great many of your stories. How did he react when you told him you wanted to publish a book that would reveal many private details of his own life as well as yours?
Actually the idea evolved slowly. A friend in a publishing company suggested I do this book six months before I began writing. I talked about it with Kim (my husband), and I was completely surprised at his enthusiastic response. Now, don’t get me wrong, but in general my writing doesn’t excite Kim. Though he’s quietly proud of me, he hasn’t read everything I’ve written. So, when this opportunity came up and he was very obviously “all in” (even referring to it as “our” book), I took notice!
Before more turning your hand to non-fiction, you wrote fiction for many years. Like Pure Sex, Great Sex, your fiction dares to be frankly, even brutally, real. Your novels have covered subjects ranging from domestic violence to infidelity to homosexuality and AIDS. Now you’ve written a non-fiction book about sex in which you likewise don’t pull any punches. What draws you to write about tough topics like these?
Perhaps it is the way I was designed. It seems to me that we believers are worth nothing if our faith makes no difference in the midst of real-world issues. A powerful faith brings powerful change.
When I first contemplated domestic violence, a man had killed his three girls and himself in a tiny Oregon-coast town. The entire village was devastated by the event. Later, the ex-wife confessed that he had been violent. I got to thinking, “What if WE (Christians) had been aware enough to see the signs? What if ONE OF US had been wise enough to befriend this woman? Might we have made a real difference?” Those are the kinds of questions that intrigue me.
When it comes to sexuality, I’ve lived long enough to watch the demise of marriages I thought were safe. I’ve grieved the sexual failures of those I respected. I’ve unsuccessfully tried to convince friends to avoid affairs. I’ve made my own mistakes. Fortunately, God has protected me. When you care about God, you care about his kids and the struggles they face. I wanted to save some young women from the heartache their decisions will undoubtedly bring. At the same time, I wanted to give them the power to bring real change to their very real relationships.
In Pure Sex, Great Sex, you tell the story of your future son-in-law asking if you thought God had one right person in mind for an individual to marry. You answered: “The plan…is far more about you becoming the right person for your spouse, than it is that you find the right person to marry.” (p. 99) This really caused me to pause as it gave me a new perspective on marriage—and especially on marital tension or conflict. It made me more willing to see marriage’s tougher seasons as having a very real and defining—even sanctifying—purpose; and not just for me, but for my husband. In your own life, what has brought you to this conclusion?
Funny that you mention this story. I believe Jeff was really thinking: If I found God’s perfect wife, that relationship would be easier, without conflict. It’s a common desire, isn’t it?
This idea, that our job is to be transformed, is the theme of my speaking ministry. I phrase it this way, “Turning Struggles into Strengths.” It came from this very genuine experience blindingly burned into my psyche:
My husband and I hit a rock wall about 18 years into our marriage. Today, Kim would admit that he is a workaholic. You can imagine how that might affect a marriage.
We had four children eight years apart, and I found myself raising our children alone. I was deeply resentful and that resentment grew to unbelievable rage. This wasn’t the marriage I’d signed up for. We began counseling, but Kim couldn’t even admit that there was a problem. Eventually, he stopped going to counseling. I doubled my attendance.
In the following years, I began to see and confront the damage left from my early years. My birth family was highly dysfunctional. That dysfunction manifested itself in my beliefs and values and behaviors.
One day, after the crisis, I realized that if Kim had immediately responded to my fairly reasonable concerns by transforming his behavior instantly, I would have been happy. I would never have had to look into my past. I wouldn’t have had to confront the lies I believed. I wouldn’t have had to learn to be vulnerable. To solve problems. To forgive my dad. To forgive Kim.
I would never have discovered how my wounded past affected my present.
In a way, Kim’s not being the “perfect person that God wanted me to marry,” brought me tremendous freedom. I was able to shed hundreds of pounds of false beliefs and lies that I had clung to for years. I’m a better wife for Kim today. Better because he was completely, humanly, stubbornly imperfect! It’s the main reason I believe with all my heart that conflict has the power to change us into BETTER people, if we will allow it.
I can’t let you go without briefly touching on your novels—many of which you set here in our beautiful Pacific Northwest. The first I read (and loved) was Serenity Bay. Do you have a fave? Or is that too much like asking you to name a favorite child?
Actually, I do. My most favorite child is Season of Grace. It is about a woman who answers the front door to find her homosexual twin brother dying of AIDS. I almost didn’t write it. My agent told me he couldn’t possibly sell the book in the CBA (Christian Booksellers Association) market. That was the summer of books like “The Homosexual Agenda.” And “In Defense of Marriage.” It was a time that Christians were running scared. It was as if we suddenly believed that the homosexual agenda could negate God’s truth in the world, or in our lives.
I wanted to write a book that said, “Homosexuals are not the enemy. We don’t need to round them up and put a fence around them. If the Bible is true, then they are captives of the Enemy. And, as in any war, our job is to go in under the fence and set the captives free.” It was a totally surprising (at the time) look at the topic. I loved that story.
In the end, the publishers fought to purchase the book.
Is there any chance we might hope for more fiction from you in the near future? If not, what’s next?
The publishing industry is incredibly difficult right now – so many things are changing. Publishers are buying out other companies, fiction lines are shrinking (leaving less space for writers). Christian fiction readers have a remarkably narrow view of what they will purchase. I would LOVE to write more fiction, but I’m not sure how that might ever happen again.
I have a few secret dreams and stories waiting to be told. Yes, they will be about difficult topics. In the meantime, I’m working on turning my retreat topics into books. I’m working on “ghosting” some stories for other remarkable people. And, I’m trying to market the Pure Sex book.
By the way, you can buy that book on Amazon (of course) and also at puresexgreatsex.com, where I give discounts to multiple copies. You’ll get the most from this study by going through it with your closest friends. Grab a book, a cup of coffee and a Bible and see what God has for your marriage!
About this book: Scott and Rachel’s marriage is on the brink of disaster. Scott, a businessman with a high-pressure job, just wants Rachel to understand him and accept his flaws. Rachel is a lonely housewife, desperate for attention and friendship. So she decides to create a virtual friend online, unaware that Scott is doing the exact same thing. As Rachel desperately tries to re-create a friendship with a friend who has passed, Scott becomes unfaithful and is torn between the love for his wife and the perfection of his cyber-girlfriend. But neither realizes that there’s a much larger problem looming…
Behind both of their online creations is Melissa, a woman who is brilliant—and totally insane. Masquerading as both friend and lover, Melissa programmed a search parameter into the virtual friend software to find her perfect man, but along the way she forgot to specify his marriage status. And Scott is her ideal match. Now Melissa is determined to have it all—Scott, his family, and Rachel’s life.
As Melissa grows bolder and her online manipulations transition into the real world, Scott and Rachel figure out they are being played. Now it’s a race against time as Scott and Rachel fight to save their marriage, and their lives, before it’s too late.
About the author: John Faubion has spent many years in Asia as a missionary with his family. Since returning to the United States, John has worked as a senior software developer for a large appliance chain. He teaches an adult Sunday school class and enjoys writing and driving his 1949 Packard automobile. John lives near Indianapolis with his wife, Beth, and their daughter.
Judge this book by its cover? I think it’s perfect.
If this book were a movie, I would rate it: PG-13 for adult themes and one particularly gruesome scene.
Reminds me of… shades of Terri Blackstock
You’ll want to buy this book if … you’re interested in exploring some of the moral and relational ramifications of our digital age.
Would I read another by this author? Probably not, but only as a matter of personal taste
My take: It was Friend Me‘s relevant topic–virtual friending–that compelled me to read this book. Given the nearly universal aspect of Facebook and other social networks, I was interested in learning what this novelist’s take would be. Unfortunately, despite the story’s shocking opening chapter, I found it unable to hold my interest the way I’d hoped it might. For my taste, I found the pace too slow and the conversation a little stilted. More than that, though, I ultimately couldn’t buy into the idea that an otherwise rational human being would be satisfied with what he or she knew to be a virtual online friend–a make-believe one. Lacking that credibility, for me the rest of the story faltered.
It remains, however, an interesting exploration of what constitutes adultery (and by extension, other moral relational issues) in our brave new virtual world. That, for many readers, could very well be enough for them to enjoy Friend Me.
Thanks to Howard Books for providing me a free copy to review. All opinions are mine.
You can see what other bloggers have to say here. And John Faubion is celebrating his debut with a Kindle HDX giveaway.
One winner will receive:
A brand new Kindle Fire HDX
Friend Me by John Faubion
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on February 22nd. Winner will be announced February 24th on John Faubion’s blog.
Don’t miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to stop by John’s blog on the 24th to see if you won.