The Devil Walks in Mattingly by Billy Coffey–4.5 stars

Billy Coffey is the author of four novels:  Snow Day (2010) Paper Angels (2011), When Mockingbirds Sing (2013) and The Devil Walks in Mattingly (2014). From his website: “When you’re raised in small-town Virginia by a redneck father and a Mennonite mother, certain things become ingrained. And when you marry a small-town girl and have two small-town kids, all you want to do is pass those ingrained things along. Like believing the best life is one lived in the country enjoying the pleasures it provides—summer nights beneath the stars, rocking chairs on the front porch, deer grazing in the fields. And believing that no matter how iffy life can get sometimes, there are some things that are eternal and unchanging. But above all else, believing that in everything there is story waiting to be told.” If there’s one thing Billy Coffey knows how to do it’s write a story. His syntax is as compelling as the story itself. How did I like this book? Not as much as I liked When Mockingbirds Sing.  And that’s not because it was poorly written. I think it’s because it was a heavy, emotionally-wrenching story. Which is probably what Coffey was going for. You definitely feel invested in the characters because he makes the weightiness of their guilt very real to the reader. Basically, the story is about a sheriff and his wife going through life carrying a load of guilt for something that they did in high school that resulted in a death. There’s another character that feels this weight as well. They do all sorts of things to appease the weight of their sin. They go through life unaware of available grace. What I do like about Coffey books are the ghosts. Not in the Casper-sense. But metaphorically and perceptually. The mountains and hollows of Virginia are known for such things, and the setting for this book was perfect for the “ghosts” that haunt the characters of this book. I read all 385 pages in one sitting. It didn’t bore me and that says a lot about how well this book was written. I’m easily distracted when reading fiction and I like a story that keeps me engaged. This one did. In some ways, Coffey’s writing in this book reminded me of Ted Dekker’s. I’ve not read all of Dekker’s books, but the ones I have read deal with supernatural issues similarly. If you like Dekker, I have no doubt you’ll like Coffey. I’m no expert, but I think if Coffey could have incorporated a few breaks of levity in the book, I might have enjoyed it more. Again, it was a heavy read emotionally. But if you like a book...

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Strong girls read

God never intended for women to be dumb. That’s a mankind idea, not a God idea.  Societies and cultures of the past and present have treated women as chattel–property to be owned and kept ignorant. But you don’t see that in the Bible. Jesus exalted the woman. He treated her as an equal. (There’s an excellent article about this here: Jesus Friend of Women.) Why would God give women a brain if they weren’t to use it? One of my favorite stories is the one in the movie, Yentl. It’s about a young Jewish girl who disguises herself to be a man just so she will be allowed to read books that only men are allowed to read. I put myself in her shoes and I think that if I’d been born in such a time, I may have gone to the same lengths to learn. Maybe you’re a girl and your thing isn’t books. Learn anyway by some other means. God has given you a talent for a reason and it’s not to sit idly by and wait for someone else to take care of you. Learn to take care of yourself. Waiting for a man to take care of you is the worst way to live your life and make your plans. And trust me. In this day and age? It’s probably not going to happen. You are responsible to God for your own brain, talents, and gifts. It won’t be your spouse or boyfriend who stands before God and gives an account for how you lived your life–it will be you. If you do love books (like me), don’t stop reading. Read all you can. Especially God’s Word. Because there’s a lot out there to read that will lie to you. Don’t fall for it. The only way you’ll be able to know if it’s a lie or not is to balance it with God’s Word. Compare it to what God has to say and you’ll know the Truth. You’ll never be confused. Be wise, Strong Girl. Be wise.  “Work hard so God can say to you, “Well done.” Be a good workman, one who does not need to be ashamed when God examines your work. Know what his Word says and means.” 2 Timothy 2:15, TLB Tweet this: Strong girls...

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Erica’s Edition: Books, Books, Books!

Today’s post is brought to you by my amazing intern, Erica Graphma! Take it away, Erica! Everyone has that one thing they can just never say no to, right? Because I don’t want to feel crazy for knowing I have an addiction to something. What is that something you might ask? Books. It’s so hard to stop myself from buying books when I’m in a store by myself! I mean I don’t go into Barnes and Noble and buy everything I see because, let’s be honest, that would cost waaaay too much money. But I pretty much can’t leave Half Price Books without buying something and if I find something interesting at Goodwill or yard sales I can’t leave those either. It’s gotten a little worse for me recently too. This is because I’ve discovered that I like covers, so when I see a book I like with a really cool cover I want to buy it. This happened with the edition of Dracula I have and it will eventually happen when I find a copy of this cool edition of Farenheit 451 that looks like a match book. As you can imagine, buying multiples of books because I like different covers can be a strain on my bookshelf and my bank account! What’s even worse for my wallet is being a Harry Potter nerd. I saw the covers of the new US editions and made the choice to collect every single Harry Potter novel in every language it’s been published in. And let me tell you, that’s A LOT of books. I have had the original US editions since they came out, but since I’ve collected the first three UK children’s editions, two of the new US editions, and the Latin and Spanish editions of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. (The picture below doesn’t even include all of the different versions.) I don’t really go out and scour the web for every version I can find. I really enjoy the excitement of walking into a bookstore, seeing a book I don’t have, and snatching it up before anyone else can (even though there aren’t other people around ready to grab it.) As a struggling college student, this hobby of mine, or addiction if you think I should call it, is probably costing me a lot of money I should save for future purposes. But sometimes I really can’t help my love for being surrounded by books. Tweet this: What’s your...

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Interview with debut author, Sandy Nadeau

Today I’m thrilled to introduce you to talented debut author, Sandy Nadeau! Thanks for joining us today, Sandy. Tell our readers a little bit about yourself! I love to go on adventures, photograph them and write about them. My husband and I do a lot of four-wheeling in the back country of Colorado and we love to share those experiences with others by taking them up in the mountains. My background in writing includes a column I wrote for twelve years about our small mountain community for a local newspaper, I’ve also had several magazine articles published. Now I love to write novels about adventure, mystery, romance, but most importantly sharing God’s love. I am currently a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and Vice President of the ACFW South Denver Chapter. I’ve been married for 37 years to my best friend, and we are loving life as grandparents to our nine month old grandson with a little girl on the way in May. We love to travel but we don’t get to do it as often as we’d like. Adventure awaits around every corner, over every hill and mountain. I go looking for it, every chance I get. Describe your book. Mandy Phillips loves life with her husband running an adventure ranch in the Colorado mountains, but when Mr. Shonee, their crotchety old neighbor, tries to stop them from building a kid-size old west town, their dreams of expansion are crushed. Is Shonee just being a difficult neighbor, or is something more sinister going on? A discovery on the property of Colorado’s state mineral leads to more mysteries for the ranch, and then a teenage guest finds herself thrust head first into danger. Mandy will have to rescue her, but who will rescue Mandy? Her faith in God is her only source to keep the guests safe, solve the mysteries surrounding her ranch, save her neighbor from himself, and discover the secrets of the Red Gold. Why should readers pick it up? If they like adventure, if they like the mountains of Colorado, mystery, characters that got real bossy with their writer person…. Books are way to escape all the problems and worries we have in life. I wanted to write something that would entertain, take folks on a tour of Colorado in their mind’s eye, and maybe touch them in a way they didn’t see it coming. How did your book come to life? I joke about my characters taking over, but they did and I love when they do. I can sit and think about where to go with the plot and they surprise me by telling me the next step in their lives. It...

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Crime Writing for Beginners

I’m not a crime writer–yet. But I’m intrigued by the process. One of the reasons I’ve never seriously considered writing horror or crime is that my empathy level is far too high. I’m not sure thinking about such things for the length of time it takes to write a book would be good for my mental health. Still, I know it’s a tremendous skill to write such stories, and I have to admit, some of my favorite shows on TV include documentary detective shows such as Behind Mansion Walls and Snapped. And since I do enjoy reading great suspense, here’s a little help for those new to writing it: You can find more tips for crime writing at the above photo’s source: Crime Writing for Beginners What’s your favorite genre to read or write? Tweet this: Learn how to write a crime novel!    ...

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