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[Dear Mister Miller, You were my inspiration to launch this section of my blog. My 7 1/2 readers can thank you if they feel so inclined.]

Danger in the Shadows Dee Henderson     Danger in the Shadows (O'Malley Series) by Dee Henderson: Book Cover
My first endeavor into the Christian fiction genre was this thriller about a gal who had a traumatic childhood experience and is trying to live her writer life with danger still looming over her. The backstory was unveiled with wonderful pacing, and I was drawn in by the details of the FBI-based plot. I thought I’d just abhor the love story I saw budding between the protagonist and a famous athlete who met in a chance elevator crisis, but I quite enjoyed his diligent and honorable pursuit of her. The details were engaging, the emotions of the characters were transferred to me, the reader, and though the end was happy (as expected) there are more books in the series!

The Red Tent Anita Diamant     The Red Tent by Anita Diamant: Book Cover
Recommended by a friend who was curious about the true Bible facts in this Biblical fiction work, I picked up The Red Tent, excited to discuss the story from the book of Genesis. Early on in my reading, I adopted a cold attitude towards the narrative. I found many details that were quite liberal in the “spaces” they filled between the Biblical truths of Jacob, his wives, and their children. As I continued, my composure softened; I realized that the novel wasn’t trying to rewrite the Genesis narrative but rather tell a fictional story rooted in that historical time period from the female point of view. I came to appreciate the rich cultural details and even some of the suggestions that pose legitimate Bible questions (were Dinah and Joseph childhood friends, since they were close in age?). It’s encouraged me to engage more with the historical fiction genre.

The Four Loves C.S. Lewis     The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis: Book Cover
I began this book over the summer, trying to learn how to best love various friends who were geographically far from me. C.S. Lewis always proves to be a difficult and head-y read. It’s a book I learned intense information from, but I need to read it slowly and methodically to understand the rich concepts that Lewis is suggesting. He presents a great distinction between the loves: affection, friendship, eros, and charity, and makes the connections to practical living obvious.

Service Included Phoebe Damrosch     Service Included by Phoebe Damrosch: Book Cover
All the waiter books I’ve read are all basically the same – it’s the story of someone else living the life I also and already live (yet she’s making a yearly salary from her words, and I still scoop dollar bills off the tables). It’s tough. There are an endless amount of stories from waiting tables, but eventually it all tends to sound the same. This read was engaging, interesting to me because it was set in a dining room much finer than the one in which I work. I liked reading about 10,000 dollar bottles of wine and the sommelier who sold them. A good read, but nothing marking it as a standout from the rest.

I’m a Stranger Here Myself Bill Bryson     I'm a Stranger Here Myself by Bill Bryson: Book Cover
A collection of very brief articles by an American who’s lived the better part of his adult life in England and has returned with his British wife and family to the United States. His fresh eye to all things American and his light, satirical voice had me laughing aloud throughout. This is a wonderful piecemeal read; great for traveling and situations where interruptions are frequent.

Hack Melissa Plaut     Hack by Melissa Plaut: Book Cover
A memoir of sorts about a degree-holding young gal who hates the office life and in her quest to be a real adult, decides to get her “hack license” and start driving taxicabs in New York City. The front end of the book is more impressive than the back half. Maybe it’s like waiting tables – the stories are endless, but after a while they’re all just stories and they lose their luster. She tells about passenger after passenger – some stiff her, most ask her about being a chick cab driver, some are angry, she gets tickets, crashes into other cars, sees a woman stuck under a truck, waits in traffic, and gets the finger all the time. But she’s a cab driver, not a writer, and it shows. Maybe I should drive a cab, for a change of pace? This book wasn’t convincing enough.

Out of the Shadows Sigmund Brouwer     Out of the Shadows #1 by Sigmund Brouwer: Book Cover
Another Christian fiction attempt, this one not as thrilling as the last. Brouwer does well as creating anticipation, but saves all that matters for the last few pages. The ending suffers. The suspense is dragged out too long. In Henderson’s book, I wanted to read the pages in between the “now” and the “big surprise”. But in Brouwer’s novel, I often wanted to skip pages ahead to see what he was making me wait two more chapters for. This author also writes young adult sports novels and an adult western series – maybe those are worth a peek.

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