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Tuesday, December 4, 2012


RIVER RISING by Athol Dickson is a Christy Award winning book that I started reading and couldn’t put down, mainly out of curiosity how it was going to evolve.

This is the story of Hale Poser, a preacher who’s a black man with blue eyes. (I looked it up; it is possible.) He travels to Pilotville, Louisiana, in search of his roots, especially his parents. Hale’s story includes miracles (both true and imagined) and how he finds out who are his parents. His experience is both beautiful and horrible, and people sometimes believe and disbelieve him. It’s a fantastic story of the 1920s that one would hope would never really have happened.

I am still on the fence about this book. It is a compelling read, well written. It has a general Christian message and a satisfactory ending. But, because of some weird mystical happenings and storylines not completely tied up, I’m not so sure I liked it as well as the Christy committee did.

I understand the historical setting and words that were used at that time that aren’t politically correct today. I understand them in the context of this book, but I think they might cause some people hurt, and personally, I wouldn’t use those terms myself.

It was an interesting read, in some ways very good. But, I remain on the fence.

A CHRISTIAN COUGAR by Vanessa Gray Bartal is the story of Mare Welsh, a young widow with a small daughter. A new, single youth pastor comes to work at her church, and, as you can guess, the rest of the story is their romance.

I had several problems with this book. One is that it is a typical smoochy romance and there’s not much more plot than that. I definitely believe the kissing should wait until a very serious relationship is formed, and even then it should be rationed big time. This book is one of those kiss-a-lot-while-you-get-to-know-each-other books. Not exactly looking for God’s will and thinking and analyzing first.

My other problem was, oddly enough, Mare’s mother. Her mother is nasty, always looking for the bad in people, especially in her own daughter. And, her mother was a pastor’s wife. Okay, I’m a pastor’s wife myself and I know we are all human and have our faults. That’s not the problem here. This is a negative, ugly-acting, always assuming the worst woman. It’s almost no wonder her husband left her for the church secretary. (Yes, that was a gross sin on his part, and he forfeited his testimony and ministry because of it. But, if his wife was this nasty to him . . . you can certainly understand why he was tempted with someone sweeter.) This character really hit me as not right, maybe not even a Christian, definitely not Spirit-led, and she even spoiled the sappy romance for me.

Indeed, although the characters all go to church, no one seems to read his Bible or seek God’s leadership, even those in church leadership.

A CHRISTIAN COUGAR is well written, sometimes very humorous, and it keeps you reading, even though the plot is extremely simple and the outcome more than predictable. I would never recommend it to anyone because of the serious problems mentioned above.

REMEMBERING CHRISTMAS by Dan Walsh is a great book! It has all the ingredients for a feel-good Christmas read, including a fire in the fireplace, sweet rolls, coffee, and eggnog. It’s a romance combined with a road to faith story. Every element is just right. The writing is excellent, and the Christian message is strong and balanced. I felt that Mr. Walsh handled the characters fairly and well.

This is a story set in the 1980s in Florida. Rick comes home, only because his mother’s husband is critically ill and she doesn’t know whom else to call. Rick helps out at the Christian bookstore they own, and he starts to change from a hardened cynic to a softened version of the same. He is there several weeks, and during that time, he makes a shocking discovery. Sorry, I can’t tell you more without spoiling the storyline.

Trust me, this is a winner! Loved it and wouldn’t change a thing. Good job, Mr. Walsh! If you’re looking for a good read for yourself or a gift for others this season, REMEMBERING CHRISTMAS is definitely five stars.


  1. I just downloaded Remembering Christmas when it was free for the Kindle a few days ago. Looking forward to it!

    The Christian Cougar doesn't sound appealing to me at all.

    I just got a book by Dickson. I've heard mixed things about him.

  2. You will love Remembering Christmas! See what you think about Dickson. He is a good writer, no question about that. I just wasn't too sure if I liked or didn't like the book. It's one of those where you know it's well written, even interesting, but it leaves you wondering . . . . The other one isn't worth your time.


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