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Straight Talk about Christian Fiction

Updated on August 4, 2017

Straight Talk from Carol

Straight Talk about Christian Fiction
Straight Talk about Christian Fiction

An Explanation

Before continuing on with reviewing Christian fiction books, I wanted to explain why I believe there is a need for "Straight Talk".

Christians tend to follow the very real and true Biblical principle, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” Yes, this is a noble and very relevant trait and should be practiced whenever possible, by all those who call themselves “Christ Followers.” Due to this, it has been a bit difficult sifting through the reviews for Christian fiction. If you pay strict attention to Amazon’s reviews, you could be reading reviews by the author’s friends and relatives, along with “real” people.

Then when you do seem to find actual readers opinions not related to the author, there is that tendency to say really, really nice things about a book rather than be frank about the short comings.

This is the reason for this blog/hub/musing station – to help those like me who find first of all, the Christian fiction market to be just a little limited. Unless you wish to read lovely and sweet stories about the Amish, or Pioneer women. Second of all, while the Christian fiction market is finally heating up Thank you Jesus!) with excellent authors and fantastic writing, it’s not easy to find someone who review the book in a frank manner.

I’m going to try to do that, and do it honestly and truthfully. As a former non-fiction-only-please reader {for some 40 years) I hope my brief reviews can help guide the reader interested in gripping plots, tantalizing subject matter, and real characters. Some of the things formally lacking in Christian fiction.

So here’s some straight talk. I hope it helps!

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

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Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers Publisher Multnomah
Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers Publisher Multnomah
Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers Publisher Multnomah

Redeeming Love

“Redeeming Love” by Francine Rivers published by Multnomah is by far one of the most beautiful love stories I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. This mind you coming from a Jane Austin fan and a true-crime/non-fiction reader for most of my life.

The back of the book tells the reader this is a “powerful retelling of the book of Hosea” and my suggestion is, don’t reread Hosea before you read “Redeeming Love.” Let the richly crafted characters take you through the sometimes obvious plot. I say sometimes obvious because it would appear at times that the reader will know the next plot turn. Sometimes however, not. 

I don’t read romance novels, and frankly, I don’t care for stories about the Pioneer days unless it’s a blockbuster movie. For example, I just never got into the “Little House on the Prairie” reading series although I trust that it was very informative and good reading for all who took the time. 

This story brought the characters to life and that’s what made me become so involved even if I knew sometimes where the storyline was taking me.

Most importantly for me, Rivers was able to convey so intimately and realistically the redemptive love of knowing the Lord Jesus Christ. She wove this key element into the story so well that it was heart breaking and exhilarating all at the same time.

If you’ve ever been deeply, deeply wounded in your heart, if you’ve faced unspeakable evil abused and battered. If you yourself caused someone else emotional turmoil. If you can’t seem to get beyond your past, try this book. The least you may find is hope. My guess is you'll find it even before you reach the final page.

Kiss by Ted Dekker Publisher Thomas Nelson

Kiss by Ted Dekker and Erin Healy

Remember the line, “You had me at hello…” when Rene Zellweger tells Tom Cruise how she really feels in the movie “Jerry McGuire?” Well “Kiss” LOST me at “I think the war was a terrible idea. So much violence. So much death.” To which another character retorts, “You’re not alone in that opinion.”

Painfully followed by the familiar tirade about “water boarding”. When I bought the book, I didn’t expect to find an irrelevant anti-Bush rant that sounded like it came off the pages of the Huffington Post. My go-to source for remarks made by anti-George Bush cult followers.

First of all, yeah, war sucks, but my suggestion is, instead of going on with an irrational (and actually not a well-written) sound-bite about it, why not take your case to AL QUIEDA? Secondly, on the off-chance anyone might believe I’m totally close-minded (grin) – there ARE excellent cases made as to why we never should have gone into Iraq. While I don’t happen to agree with them, there are rational thoughtful views out there. I’ve read them on The Wall Street Journal editorial pages among other sources.

Just leave them out of my fiction especially when they have LITTLE to do with the plot. Please.

Sure I’m a bit sensitive. My son’s in Afghanistan literally on the front lines as I type this and my husband just returned from a year in Iraq. No one hates war more than a soldier. No one hates war more than a soldier’s wife or mother. Trust me on that. But we didn’t start this war and neither did Mr. Bush and his administration. Religious fanatics who hate everything about the U.S. and want us all (in the world) to be forced into their religious theocracy did!

Second of all, if I wanted to read insulting things about the George Bush administration and the military, I can find a plethora of other materials out there in the secular world to satisfy any Bush-hater. I didn’t expect it from a best-selling Christian author’s new book regardless of whether it had something to do with the plot or not!

OK – stepping down from my soap box.

Even though they lost me at that line – I still forced myself to read on. Yes, I say forced myself because I had been a Dekker fan and bought “Kiss” the moment it came onto Amazon’s ordering list but found this book, unlike many of his others, just didn’t grab me. I can’t blame it totally on the collaboration with the author Erin Healy. I also can’t blame it on the anti-Bush rant. I was feeling bored quite a bit before page 68.

I rushed to the Amazon reviews and was stunned by the overall good reviews this book received. It seems I’m way out there sometimes when it comes to Christian fiction. Thus-this hub was born.

First of all, I found I frankly didn’t care about the main protagonist. That’s problematic right from the get-go. I found her a little needy in an annoying way long before the anti-war jabber and just plain unlikable all-around.

I did find her boyfriend a little intriguing, but in a bland sort of way, and mainly in the sense that I wasn’t sure he could be trusted from the start.

Shuana wakes from a terrible car accident. She doesn’t remember anything that happened. She gets the sneaking suspicion someone is trying to murder her and that while it would appear her brother was in the car with her and she was the cause of his devastating injuries, she doesn’t recall driving the car. Her brother can’t talk either so he can't set the record straight.

Added to this, when Shauna kisses her boyfriend, she has “visions.”

You may find this book a great exciting supernatural mystery. Albeit I am a bit jaded because I love futuristic/sci-fi/supernatural mysteries. I found "Kiss" to be a great disappointment And full disclosure -- I never finished reading it. I have every intention of doing so...someday...but it was bad enough for me that I moved on after about page 100 or so.

It really wasn't a horrible book and I'm sure it can be entertaining enough to follow through to the end for most. It just wasn't there for me.


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    • cjv123 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Michigan

      I've heard your argument before Noel - and while other may agree with you - I will stalwartly adhere to the fact that a good writer can create the realism - the mood - and everything needed for a scene without ever having to use profanity. A truly good writer can draw the reader into a gritty scene with a profanity laden dialog without ever having to use a single curse word no less the "F" bomb. If someone has excellent writing skills - the reader will never know they didn't just "hear" swearing - in their "mind's eye. There are ways to inform the reader that the character is cursing without using the actual words.

      It's a combination of having the God-given ability to write well and having a huge vocabulary.

      Your way puts too much emphasis on YOUR abilities. The fact that you don't trust God to bring the reader to you, the fact that you believe you must use profanity to save the lost instead of allowing the Holy Spirit to convict a person despite the lack of profanity.

      We are clueless and powerless without the Holy Spirit. I do not for one moment believe that the Lord finds it necessary to save the lost who might be drawn to your book through being "real" and using profanity. I'm sorry, I can't possibly see it that way.

      As to my preference to NOT reading profanity. Frankly - if the writing is so poor that they must use the crutch of feeling they must pepper their prose or novel with profanity, I'm not the least bit interested in reading it. The other reason is - that is one of my weaknesses. I can curse like any truck driver if I'm not on my guard, especially if I'm very tired or lose my temper. I find that if I'm exposed to foul language - it's much harder for me to resist letting an oath fly from my lips than if I'm in God's Word and don't hear or read profanity.

      We are to be in this world, not of it. It's not up to you to save someone. That is never the Christian's job. It is our job to do what the Lord tells us to do and when we obey to pray that the Holy Spirit takes it from there.

      I can not - for a moment believe that the Lord TOLD you through His Spirit that you NEED to use profanity in your writing - the very gift HE gave you.

      So we will agree to disagree - but I do thank you for your thoughts.


    • profile image


      6 years ago

      As a beginning Christian writer. The difficulty for me lies in being always Christ honoring and being real. There is no "bible of Christian Dialog". I don't use obscene language or descriptions, but at times feel that there are times when the "f" bomb would truly be appropriate. I think Christian writers often feel a great responsibility to refrain from alienating the reader but I think some of the responsibility for writing with real characters under pressure in mind, puts equal responsibility on the reader who often times get their sensibilities in a twist over what amounts to nothing more than what they watch every day on T.V. Much of this I feel is hypocritical and does little to further the Gospel, though good people may differ on this. In my on-line story @ I want my story to draw the non-Christian, while making "it safe" for the Christian and young adult as well. I guess it's a fine line. I try to walk the narrow road in my writing and abstain from taking lazy shortcut swearing when other language will get the point across. It is often difficult however.

    • profile image

      Brenda Durham 

      7 years ago

      I've never been much of a fan of Christian fiction, but I do like regular fiction, science fiction, etc., when it's not unBiblical. I love the movies like Flywheel and Facing the Giants and Fireproof, etc.

      Enlydia Listener mentioned Jane Austen. My Mom used to read the Jane Austen books all the time!

      Thanks, Carol, for this review of Redeeming Love; it sounds good! I may become an avid reader of fiction again, especially Christian-based books!

    • Enlydia Listener profile image

      Enlydia Listener 

      8 years ago from trailer in the country

      I like Francine River's writing too...she started out writing for general public and then went to christian fiction...I agree that much of christian fiction is pablum...the historical novel I wrote years ago, was hopefully going to be a cross over...never made it out of notebook form...since I had a author/critic discourage me at the wrong time.

      I also love Jane Austen.

    • profile image

      Jennifer Hudson Taylor 

      8 years ago

      Thanks! Don't give up. While I know everything happens in God's timing, I also believe in persistence--like the persistent widow in the parable who wouldn't give up. With the market relaxing and opening up more, I really believe you'll make it.

    • cjv123 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Michigan

      I have to say I don't know who she is, but I'm interested and will check her out.

    • Cari Jean profile image

      Cari Jean 

      8 years ago from Bismarck, ND

      I'd be interested to know what you think of Roxanne Henke - have you heard of her? She is my favorite Christian fiction author. She deals with all kinds of real-life issues such as depression, growing older, cancer, etc.

    • cjv123 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Michigan

      Jennifer - I'm "hie thee overing" to Amazon - to put your novel on my wish list! Congratulations! I'm a Speculative Christian author trying very, very, very hard to break into the Christian fiction market. God willing - it will happen for me someday!

    • profile image

      Jennifer Hudson Taylor 

      8 years ago

      Redeeming Love is my favorite book!

      I agree with you about the limitations on selection in Christian fiction. For so many years, all you could find on the shelves were prairie romances. And lately, it has been Amish stories. Please don't misunderstand me, these are great stories and I've enjoyed them, but I've craved more variety and I've been writing it. As a Christian author who has been trying VERY HARD to break into the Christian fiction market with European historicals, I'm delighted that my debut novel, Highland Blessings, will be released this May and is already available for preorder on Amazon. It's a Scottish Medieval. You won't find many of those in Christian Fiction.

    • profile image

      Jennifer Hudson Taylor 

      8 years ago

    • cjv123 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Michigan

      No Cher, I actually had never heard of those prayer books, but I have now! And you know what? They sound very intriguing. I'm going to put that on my "To Read" list! Thanks!

    • Cher Anne profile image

      Cher Anne 

      9 years ago from Earth

      Thanks I also like the Yada Yada Prayer Books. Have you read those?


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