Short Reviews (1-2 Star Rating)

Short Review of “That Certain Summer”

One of the “hardships” (if you can call it that) of being a book reviewer is that sometimes there are books that you just don’t… like. Or worse, that you kind of liked but mostly didn’t. Or liked a lot except for that one thing you hated! Somewhere in my mind are make-believe bookshelves labeled “I don’t hate this but I don’t like it enough to give it three stars”, and those shelves frustrate me to no end.

I finished a book back in August called That Certain Summer by Irene Hannon, and it wasn’t to my taste. To its credit, it held my interest long enough for me to want to read it all the way through. Some things about it were refreshing; one of the main characters had a teenage daughter, and it was nice to see life from the perspective of a mom. There was also a praiseworthy pro-life plot. Characters had some realistic problems to overcome, such as trying to lose weight and live more healthfully or the devastating loss of a lifelong occupation.

That said, the book– particularly the romance– fell short for me. Some of it was just corny (E.g. the scene where the only seat that can be found is an outside bench covered almost entirely in tree sap. The two love interests have no option but to sit extremely close together on the clean end ( ’cause ya know you can’t sit in the grass, or find a chair, or go to your car, or anything) while the dialogue was often wooden. Part of the problem may have been that the story was split up between four point-of-views, and three of those four characters had issues that could have justified an entire book of their own to expand upon and deal with. Instead, their stories were rushed through and wrapped up far too conveniently. There were a few sketchy theological moments (seems as if hiring an unbeliever to be your church worship/music director would be a bad idea? Maybe it’s just me?)

I’d like to give Irene Hannon another chance; I’ve heard she also wrote some suspense, and I wonder if that might be her strong suit. Do you have any recommendations for me? Thanks for checking in on the blog!

Uncategorized

Best and Worst of A Light on the Hill by Connilyn Cossette

ALightOnHill1If you’ve been looking at new Christian fiction lately you may recognize the cover of A Light on the Hill by Connilyn Cossette. If you didn’t buy the book immediately because the illustration is so gorgeous (likely the prettiest in my small collection of books) you’ve probably wondered about it. Today, rather than delving into a comprehensive review, I just want to highlight what I feel are the best and worst aspects of this popular new novel I’m seeing everywhere! Continue reading “Best and Worst of A Light on the Hill by Connilyn Cossette”

Ramblings

Why Romantic Christian Fiction and I Don’t Go Steady

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We’ve been spending time together (off and on) for quite a few years now, so it may come as a surprise to some friends that I haven’t made a serious commitment yet. Here’s why!

  • He’s so predictable. I mean, I love a guy who’s dependable, but I always feel like I know exactly what he’s going to do and say before he does it.

By nature, Romantic Fiction revolves around… a romance. Before I even open up the pages of this type of novel, I know that the girl will end up with a/the guy by the end, usually married. If she didn’t, it would probably end up categorized as something else. For me, this destroys a lot of the suspense and leaves me thinking “just solve this silly problem already so you can end up together.”

Bottom line: good Romance has to have an engaging plot and a fresh perspective to hold my interest to the end.

  • He’s not always as innocent as he seems.

Sadly, sometimes I think authors, even Christian ones, approach their work thinking something along these lines: “Hmm, how much tension can I stuff in this to keep my readers’ hearts racing and cheeks red without it actually being labeled as lustful?” Kiss scenes especially can go too far, and characters often end up in vulnerable situations even though “nothing happens.” Descriptions of physical attraction are often over-the-top, with men who somehow always end up shirtless and showing off their ridiculously rippling biceps.

Bottom line: good Romance doesn’t feed lustful, objectifying thought patterns.

  • Sometimes he seems pretty spiritually shallow.

The Christian messages in these books can easily fall into the categories of vague or forgotten. How many plot synopses have you read that go something like this:

Marie-Anne Rose travels from x to y interesting location in z—epic, fascinating time period that featured lots of gorgeous clothes and settings. She meets Eric, the handsome (rancher, sheriff, soldier, duke, doctor—pick one) but a big obstacle is in the way of happily ever after. Will Marie-Anne’s faith get her through????

Now, don’t get me wrong, faith in God through trials is an excellent topic. That said, some of the romances I’ve looked at make God almost an afterthought of the book… others give the false impression that strong faith always results in all your dreams coming true.

Bottom line: Good Christian romances point to Jesus, whose sacrifice for mankind is the greatest love story of all. The character’s relationships flow naturally from and further a plot centered on biblical truths.

 I like Romance the best when he pairs up with some of his friendship genres, say History or Adventure! I could mention some other things I’ve noticed about him (maybe I should do a sequel post sometime?) but for now I’ll leave off here. Somehow I don’t think I’ll ever break up with him entirely, but I try to spend time together only when he’s at his best—focused on glorifying God.