I think most of you have heard me mention or review a book I have "read" by listening to on Overdrive. It is an app on my phone through the local library. It is the best app I have downloaded. I only have a couple 'rules' about the books I read. If it is fiction it needs to be something I wouldn't normally carry here in the store, with the exception being if it is for my bookclub and have no other chance to read it.
The other rule is if I really am not enjoying the book, then it really is okay to stop listening to it. But I do have to give it at least two trips to and from work before I make that decision. It has only happened twice. One book turned out to be basically the characters running around sleeping with anyone and everyone and making crude jokes - not at all what the book was advertised as and the other the reader of the book had a voice that was way to tedious to enjoy the book. I actually found myself not listening to the book most of the time and so never had any idea what was going on.
There is another aspect of this that I had never thought of. It has shown me a glaring problem in Christian fiction. Now before I get to that problem I have to say, there is tons of really good Christian fiction. There are many that have become friends of mine and sit on my bookshelves at home. I love them, recommend them and will someday, reread them. So I am not trying to throw out all of Christian fiction, this is just something I find missing.
That thing is the book that is just a good story. Something that isn't trying to make a point, that isn't trying to get me to learn Bible verses or listen to a sermon. Something that lets me wrestle with the moral dilemma or character's choices. One that just never tells me the right or wrong on those choice and how I might agree or disagree with them. A book where happily ever after just might be missing from the end of the book. (I can't tell you how many books I have read in the Christian market that has an ending set 6 months later so people are saved, married or expecting a child or all of the above)
I just finished a book that will soon be on my shelves here at the store. Overall all was a good read. I love the premise of the book and yet conveniently the main character went to church every 4th or 5th chapter and we all got a lovely sermon. *Sigh* Not really part of the story, it was included so the main character could soon arrive at an epiphany that made sure we all had the plan of salvation.
This story really didn't need it, but somewhere along the line, that is what Christian fiction has become. Only about the status quo. If it worked once, lets continue doing it. Now again, let me say, we do need those books, people read them and love them. But there are others who want that in-depth story that they have to wrestle with more. I am having trouble finding that title without a Christian lesson in it in the Christian market, but I am finding it in the secular market.
My pleas are not just for authors as I know authors who are or are trying to write books like this, but to publishers. Challenge us as readers. Make us question things and struggle with what our characters do. It might even make us bump heads once and a while with other readers, but of course that is so much fun for us readers.
New Release - Twilight at Blueberry Barrens - Colleen Coble
Kate Mason has devoted herself to caring for her family’s blueberry barrens. But after her fields stop producing fruit, she’s forced to come up with alternative ways to make a living.
Renting out the small cottage on her property seems an obvious choice, but it won’t be enough. When entrepreneur Drake Newham shows up looking not only for a place to rent but also for a nanny for his two nieces, it’s almost too good to be true. And maybe it is—because Drake brings with him dangerous questions about who might be out to kill his family.
The more time Kate spends with Drake and the girls, the more difficult it becomes to hide her attraction to him. But a family crisis isn’t exactly the ideal time to pursue a romance.
Meanwhile, Kate learns that her uncle—in prison for murder—has escaped. Add to that a local stalker who won’t leave her alone, and Kate is looking over her shoulder at every turn. With threats swirling from multiple directions, she wonders if her blueberry fields will ever flourish again . . . or if this twilight is her last.
It has been a very busy two weeks here at the store. Between author visits, booktables, writer's conference and an all day librarian event I felt like I was chasing my own tail. Now there is time to breathe and relax again. Time to pick a new book or two to enjoy and here are a few to get me started.
Twilight at Blue Berry Barrens – Colleen Coble - #3 Sunset Cove
Novel - Kate Mason has devoted herself to caring for her family’s blueberry barrens. But after her fields stop producing fruit, she’s forced to come up with alternative ways to make a living. Drake Newham shows up looking not only for a place to rent but also for a nanny for his two nieces, it’s almost too good to be true. And maybe it is—because Drake brings with him dangerous questions about who might be out to kill his family.
Season in Paradise – Barbara Cameron - #2 The Coming
Home series - Rose Anna Zook has watched her two older sisters marry two Stoltzfus men and has always thought she and John, the third Stoltzfus brother, would marry, make a home together, have children. But John has other ideas. He’s enjoying his Rumschpringe in the Englisch world a little too much and isn’t interested in returning to the Amish community—especially to marry.
A Gathering of Hope – Phillip Gulley - #3 of the Hope
series - Thanks to an unexpected windfall, Sam Gardner's congregation (with the exception of a few malcontents) is eager to expand their meetinghouse. But before building can commence, the County Environmental Board and the Department of Natural Resources put the quietus on the plan. A colony of endangered Indiana bats have made the tree beside the meetinghouse, and the meetinghouse attic, their place of hanging, mating, and living, which poses a big problem for the congregation
A Lady Unrivaled – Roseanna M. White - #3 Ladies of
the Manor - Lady Ella Myerston can always find a reason to smile--even if it's just in hope that tomorrow will be better than today. All her life everyone has tried to protect her from the realities of the world, but Ella knows very well the danger that has haunted her brother and their friend, and she won't wait for it to strike again. She intends to take action . . . and if that happens to involve an adventurous trip to the Cotswolds, then so much the better.
Fates and Traitors– Jennifer Chiaverini – A novel of
John Wilkes Booth - The subject of more than a century of scholarship, speculation, and even obsession, John Wilkes Booth is often portrayed as a shadowy figure, a violent loner whose single murderous act made him the most hated man in America. Lost to history until now is the story of the four women whom he loved and who loved him in return.
This past Tuesday was our Fall Librarians event here at the store. Twice a year we host over 100 librarians representing 80 churches. It is a long, busy and fun day. The whole store gets involved and by the end of the day, everyone is tired. Even with that it is one of our favorite days and everyone looks forward to it each season. If you are a church librarian or know a church librarians, please feel free to contact me for information on the next event.
Laura McNeil's novels are filling a place in the Christian fiction market that not many authors can or will try to. She writes very real issue driven books. Sometimes that means she crosses the line with language, but for me it makes the book all the better for it as it is close to what the real world is like.
In Sister Dear, Laura takes us on a journey with Allie. She has just returned home after serving a 10 year prison sentence for a murder she didn't commit. Only two people know she is innocent, herself and the real murderer, the rest of the town believes she was and is guilty. But she is determined to prove her innocence not only for herself, but for the daughter she had to leave behind.
Not only is this book about Allie's return to society it is about her family and how they deal with it, the community as a whole and how the church seems awfully quiet in the amount they have given and are giving the family. It really did add a very interesting dynamic to the story that didn't always leave me comfortable with my reaction to what was happening.
I have recommended Laura's books strongly since reading Center of Gravity, and will continue to do so because she is turning out books that make you think about and maybe notice things you may not have before.
Tangled Webs - Irene Hannon After a disastrous Middle East mission ends his six-year Army Ranger career, Finn McGregor needs some downtime. A peaceful month in the woods sounds like the perfect way to decompress. But peace isn't on the agenda once he crosses paths with publishing executive Dana Lewis, a neighbor who is nursing wounds of her own. Someone seems bent on disrupting her stay in the lakeside cabin she inherited from her grandfather. As Finn and Dana work together to discover who is behind the disquieting pranks, the incidents begin to take on a menacing tone. And when it becomes apparent Dana's foe may have deadly intent, Finn finds himself back in the thick of the action--ready or not. Bestselling author Irene Hannon draws readers into a web of psychological suspense where danger lurks in dark corners . . . and keeps them captive until the very last page.