Fun Friday

Fun Read Friday: Out With the In Crowd

 

Out With the In Crowd by Stephanie Morrill

It’s senior year, and Skylar Hoyt should be having the time of her life. Instead, she returns to school after a Christmas break unlike any she’s ever had. Her parents are on the verge of breaking up, her younger sister Abbie is nearing the end of pregnancy but doesn’t seem worried about buying diapers or deciding on names, and Skylar’s still trying to figure out how to stay on the right track after rededicating her life to God. She’s learning that God doesn’t just want to be with her at home or at church — He even wants to be part of things she used to not care about at all, like her grades.

At least things are still good with her boyfriend Connor, even though he doesn’t always understand why Skylar is focusing so much on helping Abbie or trying to keep the peace between her parents. Or at least things are still pretty good until Skylar finds out that her former best friend Jodi — the reestablished queen of the ‘in’ crowd now that Skylar has left the partying life — is dating Skylar’s ex Eli. Then Jodi starts working her charms on Connor, nearly sending Skylar over the edge with paranoia.

Skylar doesn’t regret her decision to follow God, but she’s like anyone else who’s ever wished the walk would be a little easier. She struggles to keep her old knee-jerk reactions at bay and to figure out what God wants her to do in life. Most of all, she’s learning how to speak up at the right time and in the right way to help the people she loves.

Although Out With the In Crowd is written for teenagers, it’s a good read even for adults because the themes cross generational and social lines. Skylar and the other characters are super believable teenagers and a few surprises along the way keep the story moving. The only suggestion I would have is that you read the first book in the series, Me, Just Different, before jumping into Out With the In Crowd. Morrill does a good job including enough background to help you know what’s going on, but you’ll enjoy the story a lot more if you know all the details from book 1. Book 3 in the series, So Over It, will be out in July, and I’m looking forward to reading the rest of Skylar’s story.

Visit Stephanie Morrill’s website

Buy your own copy. If you enjoy good books for teens, you might also want to check out these titles from Jenny B. Jones.

Categories: Book reviews, Christian fiction, Fun Friday | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Fun Read Friday: CROWN Marketing

I’ve always loved to read and still enjoy it even if I don’t spend nearly as much time curled up with a good book as in years past. That’s about to change (at least to some extent), thanks to a new online group I’m part of.

It’s called CROWN Fiction Marketing, and it was established as a way to help spread the word about some great Christian fiction. All the ads and marketing plans in the world help get an author’s name out there, but research shows that old fashioned word of mouth still sells the most books. That’s why CROWN exists — to help Christian authors reach new people with their books.

So the Christian focus makes CROWN different, but so do the actual books. CROWN’s purpose is to promote God-honoring fiction set in the 1800s. Most of the authors who are part of CROWN write stories that take place in America, but some write about Regency Europe. The group includes some well-known authors and some pre-published novelists like me. One of the things I’m enjoying most is the opportunity to get to know these ladies through sharing ideas and celebrating together when new books are released.

The first book I’ll be promoting through CROWN is Love Finds You in Bridal Veil, Oregon by Miralee Ferrell. The Love Finds You books are named after real towns in the U.S. with interesting names and colorful histories – they’re a lot of fun. I just got a copy of Bridal Veil so will post a review once I’ve read it.

In the meantime, visit Miralee’s blog for your chance to win a book from the Love Finds You series. Just go to www.miraleesdesk.blogspot.com  and leave a comment. You can ask a question of any of the 6 authors who are participating, and get a chance to win one of nine books from the series. Good luck, and happy reading!

Categories: Christian fiction, Fun Friday | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Book Review: Abigail

One of the books on Wednesday’s “new release” list was Abigail by Jill Eileen Smith. Jill and I both post over at the Favorite PASTimes blog, which I’ll admit is part of the reason I read her first book last year (Michal). But I’ve also always loved the story of David and was intrigued by the idea of showing his world through his wives’ eyes. And I can promise you I wasn’t disappointed — I started reading Abigail over the weekend, finished it a couple of days later, and loved every page along the way.

It’s hard to write a good first novel, and even harder to write a good sequel or series. Fortunately, Michal and Abigail both deliver exactly what I’d hoped.

Abigail is the second book in the Wives of King David series; I really enjoyed Michal (otherwise, I wouldn’t have wanted to read Abigail). The good news is, I enjoyed Abigail even more.

Smith has grown as a writer from one book to the next. The descriptions seemed more vivid, the story seemed to move along even quicker (which is something I need to work on in my own stories). But what I loved most is how the characters came to life.

Abigail is one of those people from Scripture who we don’t know much about because only a few verses mention her. We know that she had a cruel husband named Nabal who did something foolish and angered David. We know that Abigail used her head and literally stopped David on his way to exact retribution and appeased him. We know that later, after Nabal died, Abigail became David’s wife.

Author Jill Eileen Smith

Some Biblical fiction tells stories of made-up characters and situations. Those are enjoyable, but I love how this series lifts real people from the pages of Scripture and breathes new life into them. They’re not just figures in a Sunday school story anymore – they’re people with emotions and goals and personalities of their own. And although we’ll never know all the details of their lives, Abigail and the other characters were very real and believable to me. Smith portrays Abigail as a strong, intelligent, practical woman who loved God and did her best to follow His ways. But she wasn’t perfect by any means – she sometimes had trouble curbing her tongue, she struggled with guilt over several things in the story, and she had to learn to be content in the circumstances of both her marriages (first in an overbearing, abusive relationship with Nabal and then as a woman passionately in love who had to share David with his other wives).

I could relate to Abigail on many levels – there are just some things about being a woman that cross time and distance with ease. There are just enough details to make things realistic without burdening you with research; there’s enough drama and angst to keep things interesting. The book swept me right into Abigail’s world and by the time I finished reading I felt like I’d been privy to the ins and outs of ancient Jewish society.

If you want to learn more, check out Jill Eileen Smith’s blog and the website for her Wives of King David series. Or, even better, hop over to get your own copy. (If you do read Abigail, I’d love to hear from you – come back and leave a comment about what you thought. Or if you’ve read some other great Biblical fiction lately, let me know about that too!)

Happy reading!

Categories: Book reviews, Christian fiction, Fun Friday | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Time to Drain

Paper towels.

How many times a week — or even each day — do you snag one off the roll? I do it all the time and never gave it a second thought … until I found myself writing about it in my novel.

Here’s the scenario. My character is cooking breakfast and takes bacon out of the skillet. My automatic step is to put the bacon (or sausage) on paper towels to drain. But as soon as I wrote that, I wondered if that’s what my character would have done. After all, my story takes place in 1900 so there are a lot of differences between what people had then and what we have now.

Google to the rescue! Once I started researching I learned that paper towels as we know them weren’t invented and available in households until around 1907. I found the same information in several places, so felt like it must be on the right track.

My guess is that people would use some other type of cloth instead, but I had spent enough time tracking down paper towels and needed to get back to actual writing (that’s one of the hazards of loving to research – it can take you all sorts of places that might be fun but don’t add words to the story). End result: my character simply puts the bacon on a plate to drain.

That’s the beauty of writing a historical novel and delving into research to ensure your story is accurate – you just never know what interesting thing you might learn. Think about that the next time you tear off yet another paper towel to help with quick clean-up or drying.

Categories: Fun Friday, Historical research, Uncategorized | Tags: , | Leave a comment
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