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Writing Challenging Book Reviews

wp church library

I offered to read two books and review them.

There are many reasons I agree to do this. I like getting free books and I like connecting with new authors. I know how important it is to have a book reviewed.

But it’s not always easy. Sometimes I don’t care for the book, its story or the writing style. I’ve agreed to be honest, but there’s no need to be mean-spirited. Just because the book didn’t do anything for me doesn’t mean it won’t or can’t reach someone else.

Both of the books I read fell into the challenging review category.

jake tanner

The first book, The Chronicles of Jake Tanner, Hell’s Lane is co-authored by someone I respect as an writer and mentor, Kathy Bruin. I jumped at the opportunity to read and review.

The book was dark, contained language and content that might be offensive to some. I was not offended, but I felt this book would not fit most church libraries. How was I going to review it?

The first thing I did was contact Kathy. The thing I needed to know was who was the intended audience. Books don’t always preach to the choir. Sometimes they have to reach people who would be uncomfortable even being around organized religious folks. Kathy assured the goal was to start discussions of the issues of choices and consequences and how those choices can ultimately affect our eternal destiny.

This book could do that. I can and did write a review saying those things.

chasing happy

I was offered the opportunity to read the second book by the author. She was careful to preface her invitation by telling me the subject material was unique and not an easy sell.

The book is well written stylistically and the story is compelling. But the issue is the issue: the main character is attempting to come to terms with his bisexuality. The author has faced a lot of negative feedback from publishers who don’t want to touch the topic. And I think that’s a shame.

This book falls even better into the category of discussion starter, both for those who struggle and those who are trying to understand the struggle. The issue will not go away because we don’t address it, so why not use a well-written source to help those who are looking for answers?

WP open church doors

I have a friend who continually challenges me to get out of the “Christian Ghetto.” She believes there are people outside the comfort of the church who are hungering and thirsting, who need more than the standard fare of Christian-eze. Her sentiments were similar to those of a movie producer I heard speak at a Christian Writers Conference earlier this year.

So maybe these two books wouldn’t be typical of the books on your church library shelf, but maybe they should be somewhere in the church and opened for discussion.

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