The choice of CF titles on the market continues to expand to meet the demand and tastes of an increasingly diverse readership. While there are the traditional fans who read the genre for its uplifting and inspirational messages, there is also a growing number of crossover readers seeking an entertaining escape. Stories penned by luminaries such as Francine Rivers, Ted Dekker, and Robin Lee Hatcher combined with a promising crop of talented first-time authors are rounding out what is turning into a very robust and popular category.
For librarians, the dilemma in handling CF books is how to treat them in the stacks. Should they be labeled as genre fiction? Segregated on their own shelves? I prefer the serendipitous finds made by readers browsing casually as well as handselling titles to patrons looking for authors similar to the ones they know and love. Therefore, I would recommend interfiling CF with regular fiction and letting people decide for themselves what they want to read. The same advice can be applied to labeling. As the genre continues to grow and change, patrons who may pass by a book or an entire section devoted to a particular genre are better served by the chance discovery in a display or on a shelf. I am reminded of Ranganathan’s Laws, in particular “every book its reader and every reader his/her book.”
Debut of the Month
Moran, Beth. Making Marion: Where’s Robin Hood When You Need Him? Lion Fiction. Jul. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9781782640998. pap. $14.99. CF
Marion Miller journeys from her home in northern Ireland to Nottinghamshire, dwelling of the famous Sherwood Forest and the legendary Robin Hood, to uncover her father’s secret past. What she finds is a job in a campground named Peace and Pigs, a boyfriend (sort of), and a band of quirky friends who will change her life forever. Roaming pigs, food fights, and conspiring chickens add flavor to this delightful debut, which also touches on mother-daughter relationships, family secrets, and finding love—and yourself. VERDICT This humorous and tender story about a girl who discovers who she is in the wrong place at the right time will charm fans of women’s fiction and readers seeking a fresh, funny, and heartfelt tale in the tradition of Helen Fielding and Sophie Kinsella. [Lion Fiction is the new Christian imprint of UK publisher Lion Hudson, profiled by Prepub Alert editor Barbara Hoffert in “Spotlight on Lion Fiction” at ow.ly/x4ohf.—Ed.]
Cambron, Kristy. The Butterfly and the Violin. Thomas Nelson. (Hidden Masterpiece, Bk. 1). Jul. 2014. 336p. ISBN 9781401690595. pap. $15.99; ebk. ISBN 9781401690601. CF
Art historian Sera James searches for a painting that has haunted her since childhood. Having been jilted by her fiancé, Sera vows never to trust another man again, until she meets William Hanover, who is seeking the same artwork but for a very different reason. The subject of the piece is Adele Von Bron, an Austrian violinist with a promising musical career and a father who is a general in the Third Reich. When Adele is caught helping Jews escape the Nazis, she is sent to the Auchwitz-Birkenau concentration camp where she joins the women’s orchestra, giving her a chance at survival. VERDICT In her historical series debut, Cambron expertly weaves together multiple plotlines, time lines, and perspectives to produce a poignant tale of the power of love and faith in difficult circumstances. Those interested in stories of survival and the Holocaust, such as Eli Weisel’s Night, will want to read.
Gohlke, Cathy. Saving Amelie. Tyndale House. Jun. 2014. 436p. ISBN 9781414383224. pap. $14.99; ebk. ISBN 9781414396026. CF
On a trip to Germany in 1939, Rachel Kramer encounters her former suitor, Gerhardt Schlick, who is now an SS officer and married to Rachel’s best friend, Kristine. Prior to her arrival, Rachel had received a letter, the first in five years, from her estranged friend who fears that her deaf daughter will become one of the people “unworthy of life” in the eyes of the Nazi regime. Meanwhile, Rachel also discovers that her well-known eugenics-scientist father’s research may have a more sinister purpose than finding the cure for the TB that killed her mother. As World War II heats up, Rachel joins the German Resistance with American journalist Jason Young to help smuggle the “unworthy” out of the country. VERDICT In this compelling and tense novel, Christy Award–winning Gohlke (Band of Sisters; Promise Me This) tells a haunting story of the courageous few who worked tirelessly and at great risk to themselves to save people they did not know, whom they would not see again. Reminiscent of Tatiana de Rosnay’s stirring stories of human compassion and hope, this should appeal to fans of both authors as well as to historical fiction readers.
In the Winner’s Circle
The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA) has named Tosca Lee’s Iscariot: A Novel of Judas the winner of its 2014 Christian Book Award (CBA) for Fiction. The CBAs recognize the highest quality in Christian books and are among the oldest awards program in the religious publishing industry. On April 30 the short-list for the fourth annual INSPY Awards was presented. The awards were created by bloggers to discover and highlight the very best in literature that grapples with expressions of the Christian faith. Nominees include Katerine Reay’s Dear Mr Knightley, Susan May Warren’s Take a Chance on Me, and Patrick W. Carr’s Hero’s Lot. The winners of the 2014 INSPY Awards will be announced June 28. For the full list of nominated titles visit inspys.com.
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Afshar, Tessa. In the Field of Grace. River North: Moody. Jul. 2014. 290p. ISBN 9780802410979. pap. $14.99. CF
Gabhart, Ann H. Love Comes Home. Revell. (Rosey Corner, Bk. 3). Jul. 2014. 384p. ISBN 9780800721855. pap. $14.99; ebk. ISBN 9781441245199. CF
Gilbert, Kellie Coates. A Woman of Fortune. Revell. (Texas Gold, Bk. 1). Jun. 2014. 336p. ISBN 9780800722722. pap. $14.99; ebk. ISBN 9781441245007. CF
Gray, Shelley. Secrets of Sloane House. Zondervan. (Chicago World’s Fair Mystery, Bk. 1). Jul. 2014. 352p. ISBN 9780310338529. pap. $15.99; ebk. ISBN 9780310338536. CF
Kingsbury, Karen with Jamie George. The Family of Jesus. Howard. (Life-Changing Bible Study). Jul. 2014. 240p. ISBN 9781476707372. $19.99. CF
Peterson, Tracie. A Moment in Time. Bethany House. (Lone Star Brides, Bk. 2). Jun. 2014. 336p. ISBN 9780764212161. $19.99; pap. ISBN 9780764210594. $14.99; ebk. ISBN 9781441264039. CF
Pittman, Allison. All for a Sister. Tyndale House. (All For, Bk. 3). Jul. 2014. 356p. ISBN 9781414366821. pap. $14.99; ebk. ISBN 9781414396088. CF
Whalen, Marybeth. The Bridge Tender. Zondervan. (Sunset Beach, Bk. 3). Jun. 2014. 336p. ISBN 9780310338406. pap. $15.99; ebk. ISBN 9780310338437. CF
Lillard, Amy. Caroline’s Secret. Zebra: Kensington. (Wells Landing). Aug. 2014. 352p. ISBN 9781420134537. pap. $7.99. CF
Roper, Gayle. An Unexpected Match. Harvest House. (Between Two Worlds, Bk. 1). Sept. 2014. 352p. ISBN 9780736956185. pap. $13.99. CF
In Christian Fiction, LJ 4/15/14, p. 72, an interview with Francine Rivers stated, “Rivers wrote Redeeming Love, a reworking of the biblical story of Esther….” The actual story is that of Gomer and Hosea. We apologize for the error.—Ed.
Christine Sharbrough is Head of Reader Services, Chelmsford Public Library, MA. She loves Christian Fiction for the diversity of stories within the genre