Category Archives: Literature/Books

What I’m Into Lately

 

Hello there. It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. A good friend told me that age fifteen of having a teenager would be the busiest. She wasn’t joking. They want to be involved in everything, but you are their transportation. So here I sit almost at the beginning of February wondering where January (or even the last year really) went. I decided to do a “What I’m Into Lately” post because it’s an easy way to get back to blogging. I have thoughts swirling around in my head for upcoming posts, but haven’t made myself sit down and put those words to paper.

So here you go. What I’m into lately:

British TV

It all started several years ago with Downton Abbey then Dr. Who and now I find myself watching more.

Call the Midwife: An incredibly well done drama that airs on PBS set in the late 1950s, early 1960s that follows the nuns/midwives and midwives of Nonnatus House in East London.

Doc Martin: My chiropractor recommended this one and it hasn’t disappointed. It follows the extremely gruff surgeon Dr. Martin who is now a GP in the village of Portwenn after no longer being able to perform operations due to a sudden onset of homophobia (fear of blood.) The show weaves comedy and serious issues together quite well as you get to know the cast of characters from the tiny english fishing village of Portwenn.

Books

I have recently found myself wanting to read more fiction which has surprised me. In recent years I have only read a very limited amount of fiction. Mainly from Billy Coffey. If you have read any of his I recommend you checking them out.

The Third Target and The First Hostage by Joel C. Roseberg. I’ve never been into prophetic/end of days type fiction, but I enjoy Roseberg’s books and these are his latest two.

Angel Falls by Kristin Hannah. Anne Bogel recommended Kristin Hannah to one of her guests on her podcast “What Should I Read Next?” and I decided to see what my library had of her work. An easy read with just enough drama to hold your attention and keep you reading.

Out of the House of Bread by Preston Yancey. Preston has been one of my favorite writers since I discovered him several years ago through his blog while he was still at Baylor. Out of the House of Bread is his second book and I’m loving reading his beautiful words again.

Music

I attribute it to my Scott/Irish roots, but I love the Wailin’ Jennys. I love the mix of folk and bluegrass their music has and their harmonies are nothing short of amazing. I have a Wailin’ Jennys radio on Pandora, and the majority of the time Pandora does a good job of finding other artists that are very similar to them.

My Erin Condren Planner

The choice between all digital or all paper seems to always be a hot topic at the end of a year into the beginning of the next. For me, I’m a mix. I love the paper for my to-do lists which is why I love my Erin Condren planner so much. I bought the vertical weekly calendar which gives 3 blank sections per day. It’s perfect for listing the tasks I need to accomplish each day. I write any appointments on the monthly layout, but these also go in my iPhone as well.

I like the Pocket Informant app which sync with my iCal for my calendar, but also has great tasks/checklist aspect as well. I like having all my appointments in my phone so it will alert me with a reminder ahead of time. I don’t use the tasks aspect of Pocket Informant very often since I use my EC planner for those, but the Checklist is great for making lists of things I need to pick up at the grocery store, etc.

 

Podcasts

I first started listening to the Popcast because Jamie is one of my favorites on social media plus I had met her through Alabama Bloggers and she is amazing. While I am unbelievably out of the loop when it comes to pop culture I do like this podcast from Knox McCoy & Jamie because it is just fun and entertaining. I never miss a week.

What Should I Read Now? with Anne Bogel of Modern Mrs. Darcy. Anne chats with one guest each week about books they have enjoyed or have not enjoyed and then makes recommendations on what she thinks they should read next. This has been great for adding books to my “books to read” list.

Do you have a favorite podcast or two that you would recommend?

 

Recipes

My kiddo loves the chocolate chip muffins I make. He wipes them out within two or three days. They are on my to-do list to make today. I found this recipe on Tasty Kitchen. I find that I usually add an extra egg as the local ones I buy are more medium sized than large.

Art

I’m enjoying making these 8×8 canvases with scripture on them (above.) I’ve sold all I’ve made so far and working on more.

I am trying to find a place to hang one of my favorite abstracts I’ve ever painted (below.) It’s called “Ascend.” I have another long skinny canvas prepped and ready to begin this week also.


What things are you into lately? 

The Devil Walks In Mattingly by Billy Coffey

I rarely review books here on my blog anymore. Honestly I rarely read fiction now. Billy Coffey’s novels are the exception. Back before his first novel was published I discovered Billy through his agent’s blog. I followed him on twitter and he is still one of my favorites on social media. Not because he spends a lot of time building a tribe but simply because he interacts and is so down to earth. Yes even that shows through in his blogging and social media.

For that reason and the fact that he is a good and true southern writer, I never turn down a chance to review and help spread the word about his novels. I think he and Rick Bragg, my other favorite southern writer would get along well. (I should ask Billy if he has ever read Rick Bragg’s books.)

Jake and Kate are still haunted by the death of a high school classmate. Each spending their time trying to redeem themselves. When tragedy visits their small town of Mattingly they realize they can no longer run from the past, and as they discover the lengths God will go to show us grace.

This is my favorite novel from Billy so far. With more supernatural aspects it keeps you reading. Billy was gracious enough to answer a few interview questions about the novel.

Where did you find the inspiration for your latest novel The Devil Walks in Mattingly?

The story actually grew out of two things. The first was a boy I went to high school with. You know how every school has that one kid who’s just different? Doesn’t wear the right clothes, doesn’t come from the right family. The kid who gets tormented by most and ignored by everyone else? That was him. And though I never was one of the tormentors, I did ignore him. For years I comforted myself by saying at least I never took part in all that bullying, but then I realized what I did was maybe even worse. All those kids did everything to tear that poor boy down, and I did nothing at all to lift him up. He became Phillip McBride in my story.

The other part of the inspiration was my second novel, Paper Angels. I wrote that book knowing there was a lot more that needed to be said about what happened. Devil happens right alongside that novel. It tells the other half of the story.

In this, as well as When Mockingbirds Sing, you write about the towns people being leery of new people from ‘away.’ Having grown up in a small rural community and now living in a small town I can easily identify with this. Why do you think people like the residents of Mattingly are so hesitant to accept new comers?

Towns like Mattingly (and yours, and mine) are pretty insular. There’s a common sentiment that they’re sort of set apart from the world. They tend to have little trouble as far as crime, everybody either went to school with or is somehow kin to everyone. It’s like a family. Strangers are generally tolerated, but it takes a while for acceptance to creep in. I think it boils down to a fundamental fear of change. Small towns are generally very traditional places. The thought of someone or something rocking the boat scares people.

This one is darker than your previous novels. I think much of Christian fiction genre avoids the darker aspects of the world. What made you write a novel with a more sinister element in the plot?

I’m not sure why so many writers of Christian fiction avoid the darker aspects of the world. There’s certainly a desire for stories where characters don’t really suffer and hard questions really aren’t asked and everything gets tied up with a nice bow at the end. I’d say there’s even a need for such stories. But to me, stories like that can almost veer into fantasy. That’s not how life works. Life is tough. It’s hard. And I think that for a writer of faith to ignore those things is really a disservice to the people we want to reach. There are readers who read to escape, and readers who read to try and understand the world, themselves, and God. I’ll always write for the latter.

In this novel, as well as Mockingbirds, you write more about the unseen spiritual world. Do you think there is more to the spiritual world than we realize? Will we see more of this in your future novels? I for one hope so.

My faith is a product of my environment. I grew up in the mountains surrounded by stories of the unseen, and I fully believe that if we had only a glimpse of all the hidden things that happen around us, it would likely scare us half to death. There will always be a supernatural element to my books. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Affiliate links included in this post. I was given an advance copy of the book to review, but all opinions are my own.


The Devil Walks In Mattingly

It’s no secret I’m a fan of Billy Coffey’s novels. His latest novel The Devil Walks in Mattingly releases today. I was fortunate enough to read an advance copy for review and will be sharing it with my interview with Billy very soon, but wanted to share Billy’s video about the book here today. I read very little fiction these days so you know I don’t recommend a book unless I think it’s worth it. Check out The Devil Walks in Mattingly today.

This post contains affiliate links. 

When Mockingbirds Sing

 

 

I almost never do reviews on my blog these days. I don’t like giving bad reviews so I’ve chosen for the most part to not take the risk of disliking something.

I rarely read fiction any more. Billy Coffey’s novels are the exception. So when Billy asked if anyone would be willing to help get the word out about his new novel I replied with a yes. I ‘met’ Billy and his blog via twitter a few years ago before his first book was released, and his blog is still one of my few favorites. So when he asked I knew I would likely enjoy the novel.

When Mockingbirds Sing introduces us to Leah, a shy little girl isolated by her stutter whose parents are struggling to find their way. New to the town of Mattingly, her family isn’t welcomed easily, but when Leah begins painting stunning images, that also seem to be prophetic, the town takes notice. When the prophetic imagery turns dark the townspeople face a spiritual realm they would rather not see and are forced to confront their long held beliefs.

With the easy and heartfelt writing I’ve come to love, Billy Coffey explores the unseen spiritual realm from the experience of a child and what happens when that world collides with long held beliefs of adults. Billy shares more about the inspiration for When Mockingbirds Sing here in the video below.

Disclaimer: I received a free advanced digital copy of When Mockingbirds Sing to review, but the thoughts and review here are my own. I do not recommend a book, or any product for that matter, unless I believe in it. 

Fresh Air & Place of Freedom: A Giveaway

UPDATED: Thank you to all who entered! The winner has been drawn & contacted!


I am so excited to share today’s giveaway with you! I do not normally do many giveaways here, but the past few weeks have provided a couple of opportunities. My plan is to be back to my regular blogging tomorrow. At this point in life, sometimes the writing has to take a lower priority.

But back to the giveaway! Today I get to share with you two things that are speaking such life into my spirit right now. The first is the book Fresh Air by Pastor Chris Hodges. Pastor Chris is the founding pastor of Church of the Highlands. We attend the Auburn campus of Church of the Highlands and I love the messages we hear from Pastor Chris. They are always practical and relevant to so many aspects of life. I am sixty percent through the book and I know you will take as much away from it as I have. I have heard Pastor Chris speak about the topic he writes about in Fresh Air and his passion for this message comes through in the pages.

Another aspect we love about Highlands is the worship. We sing songs by many worship teams like Hillsong, Desperation Band, and others, but are also blessed to have some incredibly talented songwriters, musicians, and singers. Highlands Worship’s second CD Place of Freedom is available on iTunes and in stores today. I would love for you to check it out and enjoy some of the music I love singing and worshipping with each Sunday. Emmanuel and Place of Freedom are my two favorites.

I am giving away a copy of Fresh Air and a Place of Freedom CD today! The winner will receive the book and CD. All you have to do is leave a comment below to be entered. Comments will close Saturday, September 22 at midnight and I will draw a winner Saturday morning. Giveaway open to U.S. residents only.

I was not provided copies of the book or CD for review. I am giving away these copies purchased by me simply because I want to share.