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2011/2012 Christian Fiction Mini-Reviews

Feb 6, 2013

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

redeeming love francine riversRelease Date: May 9, 2005 (This Edition)
Author: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: Multnomah Books
Pages/Format: 479 (Paperback)
Genre: Historical Christian Romance
Source: Purchased
My Rating: A- (View Scale)
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I have a love-hate relationship with this book. Some of you may remember that it ranked #2 on my Top 10 Fiction Books of 2011 list. I included it in that list primarily because it is, on the whole, a beautiful tale of redemption. So here’s where the love-hate part comes in: on the one hand I feel like this story sends a very positive message about the inherent value of women regardless of their sexual history. Evangelical culture in America places such an emphasis on women’s sexual purity that it undermines the whole concept of grace. Redeeming Love challenges this double standard, BUT–and there is a big but–it also takes a woman’s right to free will and tosses it out the window when Michael “weds” Angel while she’s basically unconscious and then carts her off to his farm. Ummm…. yeah. Object lesson: one sided vows and a shiny gold ring do not a legal marriage make.

Bottom line: there’s a reason Redeeming Love is a bestseller. It’s a striking story that breaks a lot of Christian fiction stereotypes and I enjoyed it a lot. But it’s not without problems, so read with discernment.

Where Lilacs Still Bloom by Jane Kirkpatrick

where lilacs still  bloom jane kirkpatrickRelease Date: April 17, 2012
Author: 
Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: 
WaterBrook Press
Pages/Format: 
384 (ARC)
Genre: 
Historical Christian Fiction
Source: 
Publisher
My Rating:
 D (View Scale)
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I thoroughly enjoyed Kirkpatrick’s last novel, The Daughter’s Walk and had high hopes for this one. The writing is of no less quality than in her previous book, but the subject matter literally put me to sleep. Where Lilacs Still Bloom spans five decades in the life of Hulda Klager, a German immigrant  and actual historical figure who passionately pursued plant hybridization during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Although I have no interest whatsoever in plant hybridization, I hoped that Klager’s story would educate me about a subject I am woefully ignorant of in an entertaining way. Unfortunately the story inched along at a snails pace, and I, who have only abandoned a book halfway through a handful of times in my life, eventually threw in the towel.

I do have two ARCs of this one which I will be giving away soon, so if you’re into flowers and sleepy historical narratives, have at it my friend.

Dry as Rain by Gina Holmes

dry as rain gina holmesRelease Date: August 17, 2011
Author: 
Website | Facebook
Publisher: 
Tyndale House
Pages/Format: 
400 (Paperback)
Genre: 
Contemporary Christian Fiction
Source: 
Tyndale Blog Network
My Rating:
B (View Scale)
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Dry as Rain is the story of Eric and Kyra Yoshida, a couple whose marriage began with fireworks and has grown cold with years until an affair with a co-worker destroys what little is left. When a car accident conveniently erases part of Kyra’s memory, Eric struggles to decide whether to tell his wife everything or replace her lost memories with fiction so they can be happy again. I like that this is not your typical happy-ever-after Christian story. Holmes writes characters that are real and totally relatable. Recommended.

The Next Target by Nikki Arana

The Next Target coverRelease Date: June 1, 2012
Author:
Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher:
David C. Cook
Pages/Format:
400 (ARC)
Genre:
Contemporary Christian Fiction
Source:
Publisher
My Rating:
B+ (View Scale)
Buy from AmazonAdd to Goodreads

The Next Target explores Muslim-Christian relations through the eyes of Austia, a Christian woman ministering to Muslim women by teaching ESL classes in LA’s south side. Writing a novel like this without stepping on some toes is nearly impossible, but Arana did a great job of presenting a balanced view of the Muslim community. She clearly distinguished between radical and moderate Islam, and juxtaposed Christians who respect Muslims and those who propagate stereotypes about them. Women’s rights are also addressed and there are compelling Christian, Muslim, and non-religious characters. I would definitely recommend this to Christian readers.

Read any great Christian fiction lately? Do share!

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5 Comments

  1. I know it’s “fluffy,” cute fiction but Janice Thompson’s newest book was EXCELLENT. Love her sense of humor and fabulous characters. It’s a romantic comedy as it should be.

  2. Thanks for your reviews. I do have to strongly disagree with your assessment of Where Lilacs Still Bloom by Jane Kirkpatrick. I did not find this book to be slow going at all. The characters were very likeable. Hilda’s life was not an easy one and there were great gems of wisdom in these pages on how to endure great adversity, especially grief. I don’t have a great interest in plant hybridization either, but I do love lilacs and flowers in general. I don’t think the point of the story was the hybridization details, rather the persistence Hilda had and the lessons she learned. The book is beautifully written. I’d give it an A. I’m not putting down your review but want to give other readers a positive review so they don’t pass up this wonderful book, based on your very negative review.

    • Glad Lilacs was more your cup of tea, Pam. For me the hybridization details just weighed down a book which was already a little too slow-going for me. Like I said, I did really enjoy her last book, The Daughter’s Walk. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  3. I’m so glad you are back! I missed your reviews! :)

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