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Book Reviews

Many of you, dear readers, know that I do book reviews for a few different publishers. In exchange, one of the things I get are free books.

Well, one of those companies is WaterBrook, an imprint of Random House. Somehow, though, I managed to accidentally accept a book tour invite from them that I had no interest in. What books would I have no interest in? Ladies-oriented Christian Fiction. Now, I don't have anything against the genre, but it's just not me, you know? However, the way these programs work is this: you get the books, you do the reviews. Got it? Good. So, I have dutifully read as much as I could of these books, and here's my take on them:

Book 1: The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper by Kathleen Y'Barbo. What did I think of this one? Well, it's everything I've come to expect of most Christian fiction: there is no foul language, no illicit sex, and most everyone at least pretends to care what God thinks. Eugenia has a life planned out by her father, but this novel features her learning that life doesn't always go as planned. She also learns that sometimes having your fantasies come true comes with a cost. Is it perfect? No. Is this a storyline that will make a blockbuster movie? No. A Hallmark channel film? Yes. So, if you need a quick escape, this one's not a bad read. It also doesn't over-extend the expectation of men in romance. Guys know what I mean with that comment. Sometimes these romance stories create an impossible goal for men to keep, but I don't see that here. Well, except being a rich silver baron, but, well...

Here's what the cover looks like:

Book #2: The Sweetgum Ladies Knit for Love by Beth Pattillo

Ok, this one was hard to plod through for me, mainly because there seemed to be a lot of dialogue that was just useless chatter. However, that may be normal for a book about women getting together to talk about love and novels. In fact, it's probably normal for that situation in real life. The book does a good job portraying people across various places in life, so that women in many situations could, hopefully, find themselves in it. There were a few things I didn't care for, especially with the pastor's interaction with his wife. Those exchanges reinforce the idea that the faith of a church member is entirely their own business and not at all the church's. Biblically, that's an unsound idea. Definitely so of church leadership. While I've seen many churches slide too far into meddling and demanding things of the pastor's family that are unattainable, it's not a cut and dried line between the two extremes. The other difficulty I had was the undercurrent of faith in the book. It's a deep undercurrent, barely perceivable. The friends are very open in their reliance on each other, which is often how God meets our needs for guidance and help, but there's not much mention or sense that God is the one behind it all. Again, there's no illicit sex or bad language, which I think has become the defining criteria for a Christian novel, but I'd like to see it go deeper and be something that reflects God at work. Mind you, I'm glad to have the no sex or profanity, but I think we might be capable of more. That's not just a critique of this book, though. That's a general issue with Christian artwork in multiple genres.

Here's the cover, hopefully hyperlinked to the Amazon page:

The 3rd Novel was entitled Rose House by Tina Ann Forkner. This book was far more enticing than the other two. There was a good amount of plot development, although I had trouble sometimes keeping the timeline straight. This is a problem I have with books with flashbacks in general, though, and shouldn't take too much away from the work. The characters are dealing with real pain, and even looking back there are some difficult issues to be addressed. There is still no overt profanity or sexual activity in the book, but the plot explains that some of the characters have less than perfect behavior and you see the comment "He cursed" or "he swore" without giving you the exact words. If you only pick up 1 of these 3, I'd get Rose House. Of course, all 3 are available from Amazon and are in the 4-for-3 promotion, so you can buy these 3 and pick up a free book. Anyway, Rose House wasn't quite neat, clean escapist fiction, but that's a good thing. Here's the cover so you know what to buy:

One other quick note: All three of these books are available on Amazon Kindle, just like this blog! So get yourself a Kindle, get Rose House and the others, and maybe subscribe to a blog or two to your own personal e-reader.

If you're around Monticello or somewhere I'll be, let me know, I'll be glad to pass on my copies of these books. Just drop it in the comments, and I'll keep you in mind.

Disclaimer: I got all three of these books free from WaterBrook/Multnomah. As you can tell, I didn't sugarcoat anything to get them free.

One last thing: Author Bios! The wonderful folks at Waterbrook want you to know about the authors, so here you go:

Author Bios:

Kathleen Y’Barbo is the best-selling, award-winning author of more than thirty novels, novellas, and young adult books, with more than a half-million in print. A graduate of Texas A&M University, she is currently a publicist with Books & Such literary agency.

RITA Award-winning Beth Patillo combines her love of knitting and books in her engaging Sweetgum series. Pattillo served churches in Missouri and Tennessee before founding Faith Leader, a spiritual leadership development program.

Tina Ann Forkner is the author of Ruby Among Us. Originally from Oklahoma, she now lives with her husband and three children in Wyoming, where she serves on the Laramie County Library Foundation’s board of directors.


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