Best of the Rest, 2006

This would be my top three Christian fiction books, not in the fantasy genre.

Again the disclaimer. My reading is fairly limited, though certainly expanding when it comes to Christian fiction, so I am not pretending this is the Final Word. Other books I have not yet read might be just as deserving. Or not. I have no way of knowing about those I have not explored.

Some are in the Not-Now-Or-Ever category, meaning they don’t appeal to me for one reason or other, so I have no plans to read them.

Some are in the I-Read-and-Wish-I-Hadn’t category. You probably won’t hear about those books here. There’s even a fantasy or two on that list. I’m not into dicing a book up for the fun of it, and since someone else might like what I hate, I don’t see a point in it.

Some are in the Others-On-The-Stack-Are-Above Category, meaning I plan to read them, but others have taken priority, either through a blog tour, a commitment to review, or by sheer longevity in the stack.

Of course there are also a host of books in the I’ve-Never-Heard-Of-It-Before Category. Dave Long, of FIF fame, is constently referencing books I’ve never heard of before. Obviously, those books won’t make my list either.

So you see, this is one person’s opinion, mine, based on my limited reading.

Having given you the disclaimer, I feel like I may have discouraged you from caring what books I put on the list. I hope not. I’ve done enough study about literature, formally and informally (that literature major/writer combination), that I think I have some grasp of what a well-crafted story should look like, and I think there are three solid choices I can post without reservation.

Again, in reverse order:

Number Three: Violet Dawn by Brandilyn Collins (Zondervan). This first installment in the Kanner Lake series is a fast-paced suspense that will keep you entertained—and awake—from start to finish. Collins is doing something more in this series, however. She is developing an entire community of characters which will play a greater or lesser role in the ensuing books. It lends more depth to the characters, I believe.

Number Two: Waking Lazarus by T. L. Hines (Bethany). This was a tough call. In my review of this book, I named it a Must Read, one of only two I put in that category, and the other had a qualifier. So why not put Hines’ debut novel in first place? A silly reason, really. He already made a much more important list, Library Journal’s Best in Genre, whereas my other top pick did not. So, to sort of even things out (AS IF 😉 ) I put this outstanding novel in the number two slot.

Number One: The Secret Life of Becky Miller by Sharon Hinck (Bethany). Perhaps because this is Christian mom-lit, this book is not receiving the literary acclaim it deserves. Few other books have such fine crafting. The characters are well-drawn, the story is far from predictable. Conflict of the believable kind infuses every page. The theme(s) is/are woven into the story seamlessly. The entire drama is so beautifully tied together with humor and wit and imagination. Not to mention that Hinck’s use of language is powerful if not beautiful.

In my review I said this was a Must Read for Christian women and Highly Recommended for Christian men. Those qualifiers are there because I don’t see non-Christians or men seeking this book out, though the theme is universal. The Christian church community setting may make the book seem inaccessable to non-Christians, the focus on the female character may make it seem uninviting to men. However, these elements do not make the theme less true or less widely applicable.

At any rate, I encourage you to consider all three of these books along with the three recommended fantasy novels. And the sooner the better, because the crop of 2007 books won’t be far behind. 🙂

Published in: on December 28, 2006 at 1:39 pm  Comments (8)  
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