Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Review & Giveaway! LOVE STORY by Nichole Nordeman

Several weeks back I headed over to NetGalley in search of a specific novel for review that I hadn't been able to obtain through other sources. While searching for it I happened across the name Nichole Nordeman and... I was immediately intrigued. To find that one of my favorite songwriters had authored a book was a beautiful surprise. But it was nonfiction.

Now I don't have anything against nonfiction. I just don't very often blog about it. So I debated. Could I review a nonfiction book at Edgy Inspirational Romance? And then I thought: what could be edgier--or more inspirational, for that matter--than being wooed over the fabric of time by the Creator of the Universe? So I downloaded the title and began the process of digesting Nichole Nordeman's heartfelt, funny, touching, and tear-inducing Love Story: The Hand that Holds Us from the Garden to the Gates and, somewhere along the way, I rediscovered my own cherished spot within that very gentle, very big Hand.

Here is the book description, as it appears at www.amazon.com:

The best-selling album has inspired a heart-melting book

In Love Story, one of Christian music's most remarkable singer- songwriters brings to the printed page her proven gift for mining the gritty soil of everyday experience and emerging with poignant gems of spiritual insight. Based on the songs of the popular albums, Music Inspired by The Story, Dove Award winner Nichole Nordeman takes us inside some of the pivotal moments of the people of Scripture, revealing a very human side that we've rarely glimpsed. In the process, she offers us startlingly frank glimpses of her own struggles and faith journey, inspiring us to take the hand of the One who walks with us--who has always walked with us--from beginning to end.

I've been a fan of Nichole's music for years. The way she bends poetry and music around vulnerability and truth is astoundingly beautiful. Her book is no less lovely. Penned by a naked hand that isn't reluctant to uncover the pain and humor that can result from being transparent, Nichole gives fresh perspectives on well-known Biblical cast members alongside that of a real, identifiable woman who finds bits of her own journey within the triumph and tragedy of The Story.

Using personal anecdotes and reflection, Nichole draws sweat and blood from each Biblical character's story as well as her own, one moment causing the reader to laugh aloud, the next, to be moved to tears. There isn't a single chapter that could be considered baggage or "filler" -- each one exudes the scent of the profound without losing its accessibility or humanity. And, since each chapter ends with the lyrics to the corresponding song from the album, Music Inspired by The Story, I highly recommend downloading the album and listening to each song as you complete the chapter.

This not a book to sit down and read in one sitting, although it is so engaging that it would  be easy to do just that. Reading this book is like sitting down for a bottomless chai latte with that one, deep friend who really gets the hunger of your heart. Like the chai, the aroma of the prose wafts up from the cup, rich and spicy. Each sip warms you, at once both hot and comforting; yet if you thoughtlessly lift the mug and gulp you could burn your tongue--even your throat. Still, you aren't afraid of the pain that could sear within because you're with someone who is drinking the same drink, sitting at the same table, and trying not to burn her tongue, the same as you. It's that honest. It's that beautiful. It's that real.

I can't encourage you enough to get your hands on this book; to allow yourself to be wooed by the edgiest of all inspirational romancers, the Hand that Holds You. Read it. You won't regret it. In fact, you might find yourself buying more copies simply to gift away, as I just did today for that one, deep friend who, though we rarely see each other, knows the hunger of my heart so well and appreciates a quality chai. (It's on its way, Manon!)

Although this is Nichole Nordeman's first offering as an author, if you haven't discovered Nichole Nordeman as a musical artist, this would be a great time to introduce yourself to her talent. An excellent, but not complete representation of her music is Ultimate Collection, which, for $15.99 on Amazon mp3 download is something of a steal for 24 exceptional songs. But if you are going to read Love Story (and you should!), I highly recommend discovering (or re-discovering) Nichole's lyrical genius by downloading the 2011 Bernie Herms collaboration, Music Inspired by The Story.

If you listen to Christian radio, you've more than likely heard Nichole's duet with Amy Grant, "I'm With You (Ruth & Naomi)", from Music Inspired By The Story, but there is much more to this album. These songs are gems that give a truly fresh view into the hearts and situations of Biblical characters. My personal favorites are "Good (Adam & Eve)", a Matthew West/ Leigh Nash duet that has a beautiful sense of grief and relationship, and  "This Is How Love Wins (Thief)" in which 1990s go-to Christian music artist Steven Curtis Chapman's performance taps into a deeper well of emotion than I've ever heard from this beloved CCM icon. I love this whole album, but the Chris Tomlin performed "Your Heart (David)" has become a prayer of my personal worship time. So... the book is awesome on its own, but having the CD set or album download to augment your reading and worship experience is something I would recommend.

I read this book on Kindle and highlighted the snot out of it, making notes all over the place, (even finding a few that are so beautiful and true that I want to go to Wall Words and have them make custom vinyl quotes for my walls.) But this is one of those cases when my love of Kindle grows a little lukewarm; yes, it's convenient, but when I want to recapture a moment, there's not that "thumbing through" on a device like you can experience in a paper book. Therefore, I am very grateful to Morgan Canclini and Worthy Publishing for providing me with a hard copy. This is one of those rare books that deserves frequent return visits, prime shelf space when not in use, and a fresh flourescent highlighter to be used to mark the beauty and wisdom that shows up in every single chapter. But you, dear reader, can also be thankful to the folks at Worthy: because they not only gave me a copy to keep for myself, but one to give away.

One reader, chosen by random.org, will receive an autographed copy of Nichole Nordeman's LOVE STORY: The Hand that Holds Us from the Garden to the Gates
Contest runs through OCTOBER 10, 2012 and is open to residents of the continental United States only. ***Please note, this is different from our usual giveaway policy, which includes Canada. Sorry, Canadians, but I about went broke sending a package to one of our recent giveaway winners. I love you, I just can't afford the postage right now!*** 
TO ENTER, be willing to be vulnerable.
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