Two book reviews

I finished two of my Christmas presents!

sabrina.gifSabrina by Lori Wick is the second in the Big Sky Dreams series taking place in the little town of Token Creek, Montana. According to the Publisher’s Description at Christianbook.com,

Sabrina Matthews, a young prostitute in the rough frontier city of Denver, is befriended by a police officer and his wife. Because of their kindness, she listens to what they have to say about Jesus and believes in Him.

Sabrina stays with Danny and Callie until she’s ready to make a fresh start in a new town. She boards the train for the long trip to Token Creek in Montana Territory, where she meets Jeanette Fulbright and is befriended by the church family and many of the townsfolk there.

All is well until she finds herself falling for Pastor Rylan Jarvik, who has begun to care for her as well. Will she be able to tell him about her past? How will Rylan respond? A moving novel about past mistakes and forgiveness—both from God and people.

This is a little different subject matter for a Christian novel, but Lori handles it as discreetly as can be done. Among the many things that Sabrina learns is, in her compassion to reach others in the same predicament she was in, she still needs to handle things carefully and safely and needs to know when to set boundaries. But in some ways this contrasts nicely with some of the other townspeople who need to learn to expand their boundaries a little bit.

One little thing bothered me somewhat at first: the Pastor tells Sabrina at one point that once people know that he is available for them, he doesn’t feel the need to go and seek them out. In the context it almost sounded like lifestyle evangelism. I do believe your lifestyle should be such that it reflects the gospel and attracts people to the Savior, but there are times we need to seek people out just as the Good Shepherd does His lost sheep. But at that part of the story he is talking with her about her efforts to reach another woman from the profession she was once in, a lady she had already witnessed to and befriended, and he was trying to get across to her that she did not necessarily need to keep going into this lady’s neighborhood. So that makes sense.

Overall I enjoyed the story.

between-sundays.gifThe second Christmas present I finished was Between Sundays by Karen Kingsbury. It’s about an 8-year-old boy named Cory whose mother dies. Her best friend, Megan, takes Cory in as a foster son and wants to adopt him. Cory insists that his mother told him that his real dad is NFL star Aaron Hill. Another major character is Derrick Hill, a Christian NFL pro who has been a star and won two Super Bowls and in his final year. He had promised his youngest son he would win one last Super Bowl for him and wants to make good on his promise, but realizes God may have him where he is for the witness he can be to others on the team, particularly Aaron.

The book gives a peek into the world of pro football as well as the world of foster kids. It’s interesting and informative, and it many ways I enjoyed it, yet it’s not my favorite Kingsbury book, and personally I don’t believe it’s one of her best. There were some mistakes that I am really surprised made it past the editor, an excess of sentence fragments, and the end seemed a little too fairy-tale-ish. The Publisher’s Weekly review on Christianbook.com echoed some of my thoughts, but the reader’s review were enthusiastic, so don’t take my word for it. 🙂 I did like Derrick’s character and his relationship with his family, especially his wife, and I did like Aaron’s journey. And the window into the world of foster care reveals many needs there.

Let me take a moment and say that I love to read and love to share that passion with others. I love to discuss books I have read with others. That’s the main reason I do book reviews. But I am going to be honest: if every review was glowing and marvelous, they wouldn’t seem genuine. In an interview about writing quality book reviews, Dr. Jim Hamilton says, “Sometimes people in our culture are so fixated on being nice that they won’t tell the truth. If a book is bad, we should find a way to lovingly, appropriately say so in a godly way. If we refuse to tell the truth, we’re not honoring the Lord and the people reading the review won’t be well served.” I don’t think I have ever said any book I have written about here is bad, but if I felt one was, I could only be honest if I said so: similarly, if I think a book is good overall but has a few problems, I feel I need to express that. I wouldn’t want someone to buy or read a book on my recommendation and then be disappointed or wonder why in the world I said it was so good when it had this or that problem.

I can only share my own opinion, after all. If yours is different, by all means feel free to say so, as long as you do it in a civil manner. 🙂

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5 thoughts on “Two book reviews

  1. Do you know Yolanda over at perfectlyimperfect-yolanda.blogspot.com She has a blog bookclub: mermaids. She’s had trouble getting participants. You might like it. Then you can discuss the book with others.
    Mama Bear

  2. I think your quote by Dr. Jim is right on. There is no need to flat out pan a book, just lovingly and kindly let the readers know that it needed something more. Besides, it is like art, I can tell you what I like, but not what is “good” art.

  3. I agree with your thoughts on book reviewing, Barbara. The novels I’ve read will definitely not be on the good side of fellow Christians. I like the stories but the moral values are questionable, at least to non-believers. But nevertheless, they’re good stories. They still talk about faith, love and all that, but just in a different worldview.

    I don’t remember reading anything by Lori Wick…

  4. Pingback: Saturday Review of Books: January 12, 2008 at Semicolon

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