Genre: Christian Inspiration

Christian Inspirational assignment for March 27, 2012:

 Benchmark:  Joel C. Rosenberg’s The Twelfth Imam

 Read a second title in the Christian Inspirational genre.

Please post your RA review of all your 3rd Graphic Novel choices and your 2nd Christian Inspirational choices on this Blog.

Appeal to be read for March meeting: Focus on all the appeal factors, but really think about the interaction of theme and character in Christian Fiction.

March 27th – Christian Inspirational

Congratulations to Nanci on the publication of her book, Reading Women: A Book Club Guide for Women’s Fiction; and to Leane for her induction into the MLA’s Hall of Fame.

Benchmark Discussion: The Twelfth Imam by Joel Rosenberg

  • Diane thought the paragraphs of scripture interrupted the flow of the narrative, setting it apart from other thrillers.
  • Jan didn’t need the first 125 (or so) pages as the information provided therein did not add to events later in the book.
  • It was noted that Rosenberg is evangelical, but his book is one you wouldn’t necessarily expect from in Christian fiction.
  • Nanci believed Rosenberg did a good job of making evil characters likable; that he humanized them.
  • Disappointment was expressed over the world being saved by conversion to Christianity.
  • A reader who wants a “ripped from the headlines” story propelled by adrenaline and suspense might enjoy this book, but should know that Rosenberg has his own agenda, and to determine where the reader falls before suggesting it.
  • Diane enjoyed the world-building; she thought it felt authentic. That it became about good vs. evil. Leane noted that it becomes more of a procedural, which may account for the slower pace of the second half of the novel.
  • The novel emphasizes an Evangelical agenda in the choice of Islamic scripture included within, which was violent, demonizing; in the expression of the “I was lost, but now I’m found” mentality, particularly found in David’s character; in the expression of guilt in the wake of a sexual encounter out of wedlock, and a discussion of moral choice (which, Leane mentioned, is a mark of Christian fiction: regret about past life, or past life choices).
  • Leane commented on the writing and pace of the novel; she thought they were both well-done.
  • Rosenberg bases his books on prophecy, which might make LaHaye a good readalike suggestion.
  • The book was based on a foundation that rings true to a fan of the genre’s perspective.
  • It might appeal to readers who enjoy prophecy (i.e. Nostradamus).
  • Based on the appearance of Christian fiction books on the NYT best-sellers list, it’s hard to argue the popularity of the genre.
  • Something to consider: Readers onboard with the genre may not look at it the same way.
  • Jan wondered if we are using different standards to judge Christian fiction. (In light of genre-blending, how do you judge it?)
  • When suggesting the book to a reader, don’t use the word “agenda” – say something more along the lines of the story contains “hotbed issues.” (You may also mention that the violence can get graphic, on par with W.E.B. Griffin.)
  • Leane’s three encapsulating words: suspense, predictable, plot-driven.
  • Nanci mentioned a few readalikes for 12th Imam: Oliver North, Ted Dekker (skews a bit more towards horror), Bunn
  • Christian fiction authors you should know: Terri Blackstock, Karen Kingsbury, Jeanette Oke, Tracy Petterson
  • Questions to ask a patron: Are you looking for a conservative or liberal read? Do you want a gentle read? Is genre-blending okay?

Amish fiction book list via Novelist’s RA News

Robin Beerbower’s list of “Plain Fiction” (Amish & Mennonite) [via Fiction_L, via Jan]
  • Carrie Bender
  • Wanda Brunstetter
  • Amy Clipston
  • W. Dale Cramer
  • Jerry Eicher
  • Mary Ellis
  • Suzanne Fisher
  • Kathleen Fuller
  • Shelly Shepard Gray
  • B. J. Hoff
  • Beverly Lewis
  • Hillary Manton Lodge
  •  Marta Perry
  • Gayle Roper
  • Kim Vogel Sawyer
  • Beth Wiseman
  • Cindy Woodsmall

Second Titles:

Diane – Daughter of the Loom by Tracy Peterson (1st in the Bells of Lowell series)

  • Heroine works in the mills after father’s death
  • Experiences a new awakening to God
  • The setting was fascinating and accurately portrayed; important to the story
  • The tone was bittersweet, heart-warming
  • Lot of dialogue
  • Gentle (might appeal to romance readers as the novel relied on familiar romance conventions)
  • Tracy Peterson is a big name in Christian fiction, and one you should know

Tricia – The Lightkeeper’s Ball by Colleen Coble

  • Romance with a light element of suspense
  • Old money family from New York that has fallen on hard times and so it falls to the daughter/heroine to marry well
  • Enjoyed the setting – California – and the time period – early 20th century
  • Felt the Christian piece was plopped in at the end; jarring, in a sense, as it seemed to come out of nowhere
  • Strong female friendships
  • Might appeal to fans of historical romance

Michelle – The Rose of Winslow Street by Elizabeth Camden

  • Set in Camden, MA (lead couple also travels to Plymouth, so local appeal)
  • Might appeal to fans of interesting occupations – hero is a perfumer; and also to historical romance fans
  • A father and his two sons (along with his sister and small group of trusted friends) move from Romania to America to take possession of a house deeded to him after the death of a relative
  • Character posturing and the occasional bit of cheesy writing lighten the tone (and make it difficult to take seriously at times)
  • Possible trigger: Discussion of a gang rape of a character

Sarah – The Amish Midwife by Mindy Starns Clark

  • Setting: Oregon
  • Heroine was adopted by Mennonites and journeys to Pennsylvania to find her biological parents
  • Romance, slight mystery, gentle read
  • Likable, fully-developed characters (strong female figures)
  • Opportunity to learn about the Amish
  • Uneven pacing
  • Heroine quickly puts her faith in God; forgive & forget mentality; story is about a validation of beliefs (not preachy)

Tatjana – When the Smoke Clears by Lynette Eason

  • Nice bridge for readers who like mystery/suspense
  • Interesting occupation: Smoke jumper
  • Good tension
  • Realistic
  • Religious theme: forgiveness, the idea of “giving God a try”
  • Good pacing

Jan – Cape Refuge by Terri Blackstock

  • Mystery crossover
  • The owners of a halfway house are murdered (but the handling of the case may be problematic for readers of procedurals)
  • Obvious culprits (but the motive was shocking considering the close-knit community)
  • Two sisters: one has a strong faith, the other does not
  • Believable characters
  • Reads easy
  • Blackstock writes another popular series: Newpointe 911

Leane – The Deepest Waters by Dan Walsh

  • Gentle, atmospheric, pedantic
  • Reminiscent of Sparks, Evans
  • Saturated in faith
  • Character recounts his call to faith
  • There is discussion on how the Bible is interpreted
  • Idea that your fate is entwined in God’s will

Secondary Titles

Leane Ellis

The Deepest Waters – Walsh, Dan
Appeal Factors: CH/Tone/Setting

A newly married couple are separated after a shipwreck on their way to NYC in 1857. Laura is rescued by another ship, and does not know if John survives. Good place–NYC, San Francisco and crossing the Atlantic by sea and the time period is represented with good detail. Alternate chapters provide some good pacing elements as we go from Laura to John and back with an occasional POV from the resident evil person on ship and John’s high-society NYC family. Strong character development for the main characters; some stereotyping w/ John’s fellow survivors & family and Micah the slave on Laura’s ship. This has an HEA and that is due to the “faith” Laura and John have in their Savior to guide them back together. This was a gentle, atmospheric and sometimes pedantic cautionary tale of what moral choices a person should make. More rabidly Christian than Sparks or Richard Paul Evans but still a good readalike for them. Also for people who like Lyn & Gilbert Morris, maybe Francine Rivers & Beverly Lewis.

Jan Resnick

Cape Refuge, Book 1 – Terri Blackstock
Appeal Factors: Fast paced; two dimensional characters; engaging writing style; suspenseful

On the day of the City Council meeting to consider closing their halfway house for released inmates and people in need, Thelma and Wayne Owens are brutally murdered in their warehouse church. Preliminary evidence points to their son-in-law. Sisters Morgan and Blair investigate to save Jonathan and find more than they bargained for.

Similar authors: Terri Blackstock, T. Davis Bunn, Frank E. Peretti, Karen Young, Kathy Herman, Karen Kinsbury, C.J. Darlington, Lori Wick