A Thriller from Blackstock, WW II Drama from Breslin, Bridge to Haven by Rivers, & More | Christian Fiction Reviews

Easter is a time for Christians to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who by his sacrifice redeemed his believers and granted them eternal life after death. It also heralds the start of the spring season, when we have faith that the earth will warm, plants will grow, and days will be longer and full of light. Themes of hope, faith, redemption, and rebirth run through most of the selections for this month’s column. None are as rich in these attributes as Bridge to Haven, the latest novel by Francine Rivers, who is credited with helping to develop the CF genre and, through her characters, changed the way we look at our individual relationships with God. In an interview with LJ , Rivers offers her view of this changing genre, some of her favorite authors, and insights into the writing of her most recent book.

Those unfamiliar with Christian fiction may believe it’s a new genre, but it is decades old, and it continues to reinvent itself, targeting wider audiences, while remaining true to its evangelical origins. Thrillers, dystopian novels, and edgy contemporary titles are now part of this ever-evolving category, which can be found even in the graphic novel format. As the genre expands, so has the number of publishers. In addition to the traditional CF houses like Thomas Nelson, new imprints (see below) have cropped up, promising books with realistic characters who are just as fallible as the readers who enjoy their stories. One of the more interesting ones is the newly launched Lion Fiction imprint of British publisher Lion Hudson PLC, which LJ Prepub Alert editor Barbara Hoffert recently profiled in “Spotlight on Lion Fiction” (ow.ly/uz6lO).

redstarBlackstock, Terri. Distortion. Zondervan. (Moonlighter, Bk. 2). 2014. 352p. ISBN 9780310331575. $19.99; pap. ISBN 9780310283140. $14.99; ebk. ISBN 9780310289395. cf

distortion041714Juliet Cole has the perfect life with a wonderful husband, Bob, and two amazing sons. No woman could ask for more blessings. Unfortunately, Juliet is about to find out that her marriage has been a lie. While returning a U-Haul truck rental, Bob is shot to death in front of her. At first, Juliet believes his killing was a random tragedy, but when she receives a threatening phone call, her world completely disintegrates. It turns out that Bob had led a very different existence outside of the one he shared with his family. With only her faith in God as a guide, Juliet knows she has to learn everything she can about her husband’s secrets—even if that knowledge puts her directly in the line of fire. ­VERDICT This compelling thriller, following Truth-Stained Lies, unfolds at a breakneck pace, taking readers on a roller-coaster ride of danger and unbearable suspense. Recommended for fans of Ted Dekker.

redstarBreslin, Kate. For Such a Time. Bethany House. Apr. 2014. 289p. ISBN 9780764211607. pap. $14.99; ebk. ISBN 9781441263469. cf

For Such a TimeBreslin makes a chilling debut with this retelling of the biblical story of Esther set in the transit camp of Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia during World War II. Rescued from a firing squad by an SS officer, Hadassah Benjamin, hiding under the false identity of Stella Mueller, is pressed into service as a secretary for the Kommandant. But in order to save herself, she must stand by as her people are sent to their deaths at Auschwitz. Still, she senses that Col. Aric von Schmidt might be sympathetic and appeals to him on behalf of the people in the camp. They hatch a plan to save as many of the prisoners as they can from the deadly place, but eventually their ruse is discovered. VERDICT The atrocities of Nazi Germany come alive in this heart-rending tale of love, loss, and redemption. Breslin’s stark portrayal of the treatment of the Jewish people by the Nazis will shock readers. Fans of historical fiction, especially those who enjoy complex dramatic stories, will want to pick up this title.

redstarRivers, Francine. Bridge to Haven. Tyndale House. Apr. 2014. 459p. ISBN 9781414368184. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781414390826. cf

Bridge to HavenWhen Pastor Zeke Freeman finds a newborn baby abandoned under a bridge, he brings the child home and names her Abra. Although his wife, Marianne, is not well, she accepts the responsibility of caring for another child gladly. However, by the time their young charge is five, ­Marianne dies, and Pastor Zeke gives Abra to another family to raise. The girl is heartbroken and angry. By the time she reaches high school, the teen is already on a troubled path. Hooking up with the charming Dylan, she is off to find fame and fortune in the movie business. Her exotic looks take Hollywood by storm, and she soon realizes how fast life moves in Tinseltown, even in the 1950s. But success exacts a dreadful price, and now all she wants to do is return to Haven and the people who have always loved her. ­VERDICT This is another compelling and moving story by one of the genre’s most honored and talented writers. Abra is ­realistically crafted, and her story—based on Ezekiel 16—is poignant and bittersweet. Essential for Rivers’s many fans. [See author Q&A.—Ed.]

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The following titles are reviewed in this month's print issue.
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Alexander, Tamera. A Beauty So Rare. Bethany House. (Belmont Mansion Novel, Bk. 2). Apr. 2014. 393p. ISBN 9780764206238. pap. $14.99; ebk. ISBN 9781441263490. cf

Armstrong, Cathleen. One More Last Chance. Revell. (Place To Call Home, Bk. 2). May 2014. 304p. ISBN 9780800722470. pap. $13.99; ebk. ISBN 9781441245083. cf

Bylin, Victoria. Until I Found You. Bethany House. May 2014. 211p. ISBN 9780764211522. pap. $13.99; ebk. ISBN 9781441264077. cf

Copeland, Lori & Virginia Smith. Rainy Day Dreams. Harvest House. (Seattle Brides, Bk. 2). Apr. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9780736953498. pap. $13.99; ebk. ISBN 9780736954006. cf

Dotta, Jessica. Mark of Distinction. Tyndale House. (Price of Privilege, Bk. 2). May 2014. 380p. ISBN 9781414375564. pap. $14.99; ebk. ISBN 9781414395869. cf

Hannon, Irene. One Perfect Spring. Revell. May 2014. 368p. ISBN 9780800722678. pap. $14.99; ebk. ISBN 9781441246479. cf

Hatcher, Robin Lee. The Heart’s Pursuit. Zondervan. May 2014. 352p. ISBN 9780310259275. pap. $15.99; ebk. ISBN 9780310411710. cf

Jennings, Regina. Caught in the Middle. Bethany House. Apr. 2014. 200p. ISBN 9780764209925. pap. $14.99; ebk. ISBN 9781441263506. cf

Kraus, Harry. Lip Reading. David C. Cook. 2014. 432p. ISBN 9780781405348. pap. $14.99; ebk. ISBN 9780781411240. CF

Seilstad, Lorna. While Love Stirs. Revell. (Gregory Sisters, Bk. 2). May 2014. 352p. ISBN 9780800721824. pap. $14.99; ebk. ISBN 9781441245182. cf

St. James, Rebecca & Nancy Rue. Sarah’s Choice. Thomas Nelson. May 2014. 352p. ISBN 9781401689247. pap. $15.99; ebk. ISBN 9781401689254. cf

Tagg, Melissa. Here To Stay. Bethany House. (Where Love Begins, Bk. 2). May 2014. 223p. ISBN 9780764211331. pap. $13.99; ebk. ISBN 9781441264183. cf

Walsh, Dan. What Follows After. Revell. Apr. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9780800721206. pap. $14.99; ebk. ISBN 9781441234582. cf

White, Beth. The Pelican Bride. Revell. (Gulf Coast Chronicles, Bk. 1). Apr. 2014. 368p. ISBN 9780800721978. pap. $14.99; ebk. ISBN 9781441245472. cf

White, Roseanna M. Circle of Spies. Harvest House. (Culper Ring, Bk. 3). Apr. 2014. 352p. ISBN 9780736951036. pap. $13.99; ebk. ISBN 9780736951043. cf

Amish corner

Byler, Linda. The Witnesses. Good Bks. (Lancaster Burning, Bk. 3). 2014. 332p. ISBN 9781561488223. pap. $13.99. cf

Ellis, Mary. A Plain Man. Harvest House. Apr. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9780736949804. pap. $13.99; ebk. ISBN 9780736949828. cf

Crime thrillers

AlLee, Jennifer & Lisa Karon Richardson. Curtain Call. Whitaker House. (Charm & Deceit, Bk. 3). 2014. 256p. ISBN 9781629110073. pap. $12.99; ebk. ISBN 9781629110318. cf

Cantore, Janice. Visible Threat. Tyndale House. (Pacific Coast Justice, Bk. 2). Apr. 2014. 366p. ISBN 9781414375540. pap. $14.99; ebk. ISBN 9781414391021. cf

Harris, Lisa. Fatal Exchange. Revell. (Southern Crimes, Bk. 2). May 2014. 320p. ISBN 9780800721916. pap. $14.99; ebk. ISBN 9781441245014. cf

world war II dramas

Tolsma, Liz. Daisies Are Forever. Thomas Nelson. May 2014. 352p. ISBN 9781401689124. pap. $15.99; ebk. ISBN 9781401689131. cf

LJ is seeking dedicated reviewers of Christian fiction titles. If you are passionate about the genre and are a good writer, than we want you. ­Contact sdiaz@mediasourceinc.com for an application.

Christine Sharbrough is the Head of Reader Services, Chelmsford Public Library, Massachusetts. She loves Christian fiction for the diversity of stories within the genre

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