That’s right… it’s blog tour time with Graf-Martin and Baker books! New year, new books, more thoughts about the direction CBA publishers are taking.
For those of you who are new to the blog (*waves* hello!), at the end of (almost) every month, I review a book or two published by Baker Books, from either their Revell or Bethany House lines. Fiction and non-fiction are both game.
If you’re not into CBA or inspirational books, skip these next few reviews. If you’re curious, or want to hear what’s passing for historical fiction in the Christian Booksellers Association these days, stick around! You may get a different perspective on the market.
And without further ado, I have two books for you this month! One I liked, one… not so much. We’ll do “not so much” today and save the best for last.
by Davis Bunn & Jannette Oke
Historical Fiction / Inspirational
Release Date: January 2011
The fledgling church is being scattered by persecution.
It is spearheaded by a fanatical young Pharisee who does not realize he is unwittingly aiding a divine mandate to spread the truth "unto the ends of the earth…"
Young Julia has everything money can buy—except for acceptance by either Gentiles or Judeans in Tiberias. When she discovers the secret her beloved Greek father has kept all these years, she is devastated. Julia and her Hebrew mother are indeed less than second-class citizens. Her future is dark with clouds of uncertainty.
Jacob, Abigail’s brother, is now a young man attempting to find his own place among the community of believers. Does it mean trading away the exhilaration and adventure of his current profession as a caravan guard? Hired by Julia’s father to protect a wealthy merchant’s caravans on the secretive "Frankincense Trail," Jacob also reluctantly takes on the perilous responsibility of passing letters and messages between communities of believers now dispersed across the land. He is alarmed to discover that Julia, hardly more than a girl, is also a courier. Can their initial mistrust be put aside to accomplish their mission?
An earthshaking encounter on the way to Damascus has repercussions far beyond the lives of Julia and Jacob.
I’m not going to say a whole lot about this book because—I’ll be completely honest here—I didn’t finish it. It wasn’t badly written, and in fact both these authors are greatly experienced writers who are experts in their own genres.
However, I was bored out of my skull.
I simply think I was the wrong audience for this one. I hesitate to give it a bad review—in fact, I don’t think it deserves a bad review—because I think it’s a book that would be perfect for the audience it was written for.
And who is that? Church library readers or readers of inspirational fiction who want more Christian content than plot.
I read nearly half the book, and had yet to feel that there was a plot worth caring about. Some of the characters were interesting, but even then, I had difficulty believing that every single person, in every single scenario, would want to talk about their religious beliefs. Hmm. Not entirely realistic. While I understand that the time period of this book was a time of serious religious reform and uprising in the area, does that mean it was all anyone talked about?
I don’t think so.
I also didn’t feel really involved with the story, in the sense that I didn’t feel pulled into the setting and time period the way I like to be in a historical… particularly one set in the Near East, which I’ve studied.
On their own, both these authors have had great success and are fortunate enough to have huge fan bases. Janette Oke in particular has been writing for decades. Both these authors know how to write, so I wonder why this book wasn’t nearly as accessible as their other volumes? Particularly when they had such an engaging time period to work with. I know they’ve collaborated together on a number of series, so they must have a good readership for their combined efforts if they’re still writing together.
Like I said, it’s not badly written. I just don’t think I was the right audience. In fact, I think it would be a great book in the right hands, for the right person. Leave it in the church libraries, or give a copy to your Grandmother! She’ll love it, and there’s nothing wrong with that at all.
About the Authors
Davis Bunn is an award-winning novelist whose audience spans reading genres from high drama and action thrillers to heartwarming relationship stories, in both contemporary and historical settings. He and his wife, Isabella, make their home in Florida for some of each year, and spend the rest near Oxford, England, where they each teach and write. Visit Davis’ Web site atwww.davisbunn.com.
Janette Oke (pronounced "oak") pioneered inspirational fiction and is the leading author in the category today. Love Co mes Softly, her first novel, has sold over one million copies. Janette is now the bestselling author of over 70 books, 32 of which have been translated into fourteen languages. Her books have sold over 22 million copies.
Janette receives fan mail from all over the world and answers each letter personally. She received the 1992 President’s Award from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association for her significant contribution to Christian fiction, the 1999 CBA Life Impact Award and has been awarded the Gold Medallion Award for fiction. Janette and her husband, Edward, have four grown children and enjoy their many grandchildren. They make their home in Canada.
Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group.