5 May 2017

ACRBA Tour and Review: Looking Glass Lies by Varina Denman

1 - 5 May 2017

is Introducing 
(Waterfall Press, 2 May 2017)
By Varina Denman

About the Book:
A poignant and relatable novel, Looking Glass Lies captures the war women wage against themselves, and the struggle to see beauty reflected in a mirror not distorted by society’s unrelenting expectations.

For most of her adult life, Cecily Ross has compared herself to other women—and come up short. After a painful divorce from her emotionally abusive husband, Cecily returns to her hometown of Canyon, Texas, looking to heal.

But coming home isn’t what she expects. In a town as small as Canyon, her pain is difficult to escape—especially with her model-perfect ex–sister-in-law working at the town’s popular coffee-shop hangout. With help from her father, a support group, and an old friend who guides her to see her own strengths, Cecily may have a shot at overcoming her insecurities and learning to love again.

The true test comes when tragedy strikes, opening Cecily’s eyes to the harmfulness of her distorted views on beauty—and giving her the perfect opportunity to find peace at last.

About the Author:
Varina Denman enjoys writing fiction about women and the unique struggles they face. Her novels include the Mended Hearts trilogy: JadedJustified, and Jilted, as well as her latest release, Looking Glass Lies. She seems to have a knack for describing small town life, and her debut novel, Jaded, won the ACFW Genesis Contest, the BRMCWC Selah Award, and the INSPYs Bloggers’ Award for Excellence in Faith-Driven Literature.
Varina attended three universities over a span of five years, majoring in four subjects and earning zero degrees. However, she can now boast sixteen years as a home educator, volunteering in her local cooperative where she has taught numerous subjects including creative writing and literature. Varina lives in North Texas where she volunteers in local marriage and family ministry. She is represented by Jessica Kirkland of Kirkland Media Management.
More information:

Interview Questions

In Looking Glass Lies as well as the Mended Hearts series, you touch on subjects that are not often talked-about. How do you choose your topics, and what is your motivation? In all my books, my goal is to help women deal with issues in their lives, and generally the issues we women need the most help with are the ones we keep hidden, the secret ones that nobody likes to talk about. Those are the subjects I want to crack open, so that my readers and I can poke them with a stick, see what’s really happening in our lives … and heal a little.
All your books deal with female leads who are struggling with unique issues, but they seem to portrayed from the heart. How much of the plots come from your own life experience? Each book is different, but generally my books begin with a nugget of my own life story, or maybe just a feeling or an impression, and then I completely blow it up into an elaborate, exaggerated story. So I guess you could say, each plot line comes from my own life … but just barely.
Could your writing best be described as women’s fiction or romance? Why? It’s taken me a while to learn about myself as an author. At first, I thought I was a romance writer, but now I’m confident my books fit neatly into women’s fiction. All those issues I pile into the plots just don’t lend themselves to the romance genre, but I always add a touch of romance just for fun.
So far, all of your books are set in Texas. Do you have plans to pursue other settings in the future? Not yet, but I’m not limiting  myself either. As for now, my next book will be set in Texas, but after that, I’m not sure where my stories will take me.

What is your background, and how did you end up writing novels? When I was young, I never dreamed I’d be a writer when I grew up. In school, writing assignments were drudgery, but then again, most of my papers were research not creative writing. My lifelong goal was to marry an awesome guy, settle down, and have a bunch of kiddos. Once I did all that, I surprised myself by developing an increased interest in books which led to an interest in writing. Now I’m having the time of my life.

My Review

The book opens with Cecily married and sleeping in the walk-in closet, and by the end of the first chapter I was frustrated with her for staying married to such a life-sucking object lesson in how not to be a man or a husband. (In case you think I’m being unfair, I disliked him even more by the end.)

Fortunately, Chapter Two started with Cecily newly divorced and returning to her home town where she meets up with the new town hero, football star Michael Devins (who owns a coffee shop), and an old friend Graham Harper (who is now a therapist). It’s a book full of broken characters, and there are no easy answers in the journey to healing.

Looking Glass Lies isn’t Christian fiction, and there were a few times where I just wanted to shout at the characters and tell them to get to a church, or to start praying (especially given Varina Denman’s earlier books, which were based around a church community).

But I can see why it’s been written from a general market point of view, because the book touches on several issues that affect many people: pornography (although this was understated in comparison to, say, One Last Thing by Nancy Rue), and a range of mental health issues including self-harm. And these are issues that touch many women, Christian and non-Christian.

The main issue was around body image and body shaming—especially the way we judge others based on their looks at the same time as feeling bad about the way we look. It’s an intensely personal book, both in the way it was written and in the way different people will read it.

This makes it a difficult book to read, and to review. I didn’t connect with any of the characters (in this case, that’s probably a good thing), and there were some writing glitches which caught my attention once too often. It’s definitely worth reading, but it’s a long way from light and entertaining.

Thanks to ARCBA and Waterfall Press for providing a free ebook for review.

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