Nicole Santana ~ Women of Faith and Fiction

Good morning! I’m excited to have a book reviewer with me this morning. For years, I’ve enjoyed reading Nicole Santana’s thoughts on the books. Let’s show Nicole some love and appreciation for all she does for readers and authors alike. Good morning, Nicole!

Personal

Who is Nicole?

I wear a lot of hats: I am a wife, a mother,  a sister to four brothers and one sister, a daughter, an aunt, a high-school English teacher, an avid reader, and a reviewer.  Reading is one way to center me so all these hats don’t weigh heavily on me. While it can get overwhelming, I do love all that God has put into my life!  I am a very blessed lady.

I teach AP English Literature and Composition, English 9 Honors Medical, and AVID 10 at Palmdale High School in Palmdale, CA. I currently finished my 15th year at PHS. It feels like only yesterday that I was a scared, brand-new teacher.  My how time flies.

Naturally, being an English teacher, I am teaching my 8-year-old a love for books! So far, so good.  She is my blessing and my miracle. She brings such joy to my days. God blessed me when He put Bella into my life!

You are one busy lady, my friend. 🙂 I know this next question has to be a tough one for you, but I’m going to ask because I want to know. Who is your all-time favorite character?

Professional

My all-time favorite character is Jane Eyre. When I was a senior in high school, my AP Lit and Comp teacher, Ms. Achiani, recommended that I read Jane Eyre. I devoured that book in days! I’ve since read the book about 10 more times. Jane’s character speaks to my soul. I have always been the odd one out. The black sheep so to speak. I’ve never really fit into any category, and I’ve never felt pretty. On personality tests, I’ve always tested HIGH as an introvert (my last personality test showed a 97% introvert rating), so I’m super uncomfortable around others. But, I feel deeply just as Jane does. And, I can be a little clueless about the feelings of others as Jane is towards Rochester. When I first read Jane Eyre all those years ago, I felt like finally someone got me. If Charlotte Bronte and I had been born the same time period, and we lived near each other, I think we would have been great friends.

Introverts are often misunderstood as aloof. Like you, I feel deeply. I just struggle with how to express that sometimes, so I say nothing at all. Tell me about your latest read.

I just finished reading More Than We Remember by Christina Suzann Nelson. Oh, my word is this an excellent novel. It’s a story that got under my skin, pierced my heart, and left me cheering. It made me talk; I may have bugged my husband every couple of hours with random thoughts and questions: what is forgiveness? What does grace actually look like? What if…? I absolutely adore when a book gets me thinking and makes stop in my reader tracks to have an immediate conversation. I truly loved everything about this book — the superb writing style, the endearing, multi-faceted characters, the conflicts, and the thought-provoking themes. I didn’t know who Christina Suzann Nelson was before reading More Than We Remember, but now I want to read everything she’s written and everything she will write!

READER: You can read Nicole’s review of More Than We Remember here.

The books that get me thinking are books I will read again and again. Moving on . . . What do you like or don’t like in a book?

What do I like in a book? I love it when books get me thinking. My most favorite genre is Historical romance because I love learning new and interesting things, and I love it when stories end happily. I know that life is hard and not all real-life stories end well, but that is why I love fiction. Fiction allows me to escape. When a novel is so well written and so captivating I’m transported to another time and place, that is one of the best experiences ever. I love novels filled with witty banter and timely themes. Books should make a reader wrestle with real-life issues, but they should also make you chuckle a little. The very best novels change the reader a little for the better. 

What do I dislike in a book? I can’t stand when an author doesn’t trust me to be smart enough to read his or her book and therefore explains everything to me. I feel offended. I’m more a show, don’t tell kind of reader. I also HATE when authors try to tell a Biblical story, but make it fit a modern agenda. God’s Word is sacred and we are commanded not to add or subtract from the Word of God in Deuteronomy 4:2. I get poetic license — creating dialogues and the such because we don’t have that information today — but to change the intent and context of the Bible is just wrong! I recently read a novel that tried to tell the story of Barabbas that made Biblical characters homosexual, put characters in places they clearly were not in, and changed up various parables that Jesus told. The author told me he was going for allegory, but he wasn’t. He completely changed up God’s Word to fit his agenda, and that is 100% wrong. Allegory is good, but not at the expense of God’s Word.

I agree with you, Nicole. We must be careful when writing Biblical fiction. Thank you for sharing your heart. Have you always wanted to be a reviewer? Where does your inspiration come from?

Inspirational

I have always wanted to work in the publishing world, but God had other plans for me. I have always loved reading and I’ve always enjoyed writing, but I never really knew how to express this love of mine. I’m not a creative writer. I don’t have any aspirations to be a novelist. In fact, that idea bores me to tears. But I love analysis writing. I love to sift through the creative writing of others and show the world how amazing their talents are. I started my blog, https://christianfictiongirl.blog/, three years ago because I realized that my talent for writing analytical pieces could be used to uplift and support Christian authors, and to encourage other readers. You see, I truly believe that God uses Christian fiction to plant seeds into people’s souls that get them questioning, searching, and eventually finding a relationship with Him. I believe that Christian fiction is more important now than it’s ever been. People are desperate to believe in something. I want that something to be God. I believe with my whole being that God whispered to my soul to begin my blog so I would use my talents to showcase novels in a way that would get people to pick them up and read. Perhaps there is something in the novel that gets people thinking and questioning and searching. Perhaps that novel gets people to pick up their Bibles. And, in all of this, God works on their hearts. I believe that God puts a call-to-action on Christian authors’ hearts, they write their novels, I read their works and then tell others how amazing their works are. Those who read my reviews then read these Christian novels and God works on them. It’s a beautiful ministry that means so much to me. And through it all, God is working on me, too! This is why I am inspired to write my reviews on my blog. When God calls, we have to answer even if the answer is a simple blog post!

I am so glad you answered that call, my friend! You do an excellent job. Last question . . . I believe it’s important to encourage each other in our daily walk.Would you share a word of encouragement with our readers?

The most encouraging thing to me about God is that He sees us. He is a God of love. He created us all specifically and on purpose, and He put us on this earth for very unique purposes. God did not put us here for trials and tribulations and then runs away from us so that we have to figure things out for ourselves. No! God is a God of relationships. He is constantly there for us. He knows what we are going through. When we cry, He cries. When we laugh, He laughs. This world tells us we are nothing — a mere number. But God, He tells us we are His kids and He puts His Name on us. I think that is amazing! The God who created the known and unknown universes loves us so much He wants a relationship with us. All we have to do is accept that relationship. 

Blessed be God, because He has not rejected my prayer or removed His steadfast love from me! (Psalm 66:20)

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward Him. (2 Chronicles 16:9)

Thank you so much for joining me, Nicole. And thank you for your dedication to your readers and authors! ❤

You see, I truly believe that God uses Christian fiction to plant seeds into people’s souls that get them questioning, searching, and eventually finding a relationship with Him. ~ Nicole Santana @bellesmoma16 @GailJohnson87 #Christianfiction #amreading

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