Book Review and Freebie Drawing: Sisterchicks in Wooden Shoes

sisterchicksI admit, I’m not a big fan of current Christian fiction.  Typically, these books don’t offer the quality that the secular market does, and I’m often turned off by the sappy, oversimplified spirituality that’s presented in them.  But I keep trying, hoping that I’ll find Christian authors, writing for the Christian market, who hearken back to their creative roots. With such artistic forefathers as John Milton, John Bunyan, C.S. Lewis, and J.R. Tolkien, I want Christian writers to embrace that noble heritage of great writing.  Sadly, I’m not seeing it, but I’ll keep looking.

So when I review books in the Christian market, I feel like I need to lower the bar a little bit, because that’s what’s happened across the Christian publishing world.  My expectations are down, so I’m not so finicky in my reviews.  I’m torn between wanting to support an industry that I believe still continues to do good, kingdom work, and the urge to call these writers to task, to produce something at a higher standard, one that might potentially cross-over to a secular market.

This is a long preface to a book review, but it’s been awhile since I lamented the current status of Christian fiction.

I read Sisterchicks in Wooden Shoes because I’ve noticed the Sisterchicks series in local Christian bookstores and thought they looked like sweet, escapist reading.  They offered a Christian take on the Ya-Ya Sisterhood books.  I also wanted to read it because it took place in Holland, which is where my family hearkens from.

Technically, I’m 1/2 Dutch.  Dad’s family settled in a small Dutch immigrant community in Washington State, and I grew up with wooden shoes, tulips, and Dutch cocoa.

dutch hat and shoe

I’m the girl in the Dutch costume looking like she’s about ready to throw the wooden shoe at the camera-person.

I still have family in The Netherlands, and I visited them with Dan 10 years ago.  So a book about friends touring the Netherlands sounded like a good way to relive some of my happy memories of that experience.

The main character, Summer, is a middle-aged American woman who travels to Holland to meet her longtime pen pal, Noelle, an American who married a Dutch man and has lived in Holland most of her life.  Summer’s trip comes as a spur of the moment decision after getting an abnormal mammogram.  Both women are believers, and their faith is both challenged and strengthened through their experiences together.

The highlights of the book were the Dutch culture, explained through an American perspective.  The travels are fairly cliche, catching all the typical tourist attractions in Holland.  But those who enjoy foreign travel will probably glean some interesting travel oriented information from the book.  If you’re planning a trip to Holland, it might be a decent book to read for an easy cultural preparation.

I also can’t say that I gleaned any deep spiritual insight from the book.  But I wasn’t expecting it.

As long as you’re looking for a simple, clean, very light, whimsical story, this book will work for you.  But don’t ask much more from it.

I haven’t read any of the other Sisterchick books, but it seems like you don’t need to read them in any particular order, as they are all stand alone stories about friendships between women.  You can read the full list of titles on the author’s website.

Finally, as my little birthday gift to you (since today is my birthday), I’m giving away a free copy of this book to one of the people who comment on this post.  I’ll randomly select someone who comments by the end of today (11:59 p.m. P.S.T.) (Update: I’m extending the contest through Sunday, June 14th at 11:59 p.m. P.S.T.). I’ll send it to anybody who comments who also lives in the United States.

Thanks to the folks at MultRandom House for sending me a copies of this book to critique and to give away. To visit their site and learn more about the book and where to purchase it, follow this link.

If I recommend any books that you’d like to purchase, consider buying them through Amazon using the links on my site, so I get a percent of the purchase price back to buy more books to review!

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8 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Happy birthday, Amy! I’ve read most of the sisterchicks books because of the light, clean reading that they are. I don’t care for most secular books because they have words I don’t like and subjects that don’t interest me (vampires, too much sex). So I stick with the “bad” Christian books. 🙂 I haven’t read that one though. My local public library gets most of them so I’ll have to check. I’d like to read more about the Netherlands. Cute childhood picture! 😀

  2. Happy Birthday Amy! This sounds like a pretty good read. I’ll have to check them out. Thanks for the review. =)

  3. I was enjoying a package of Limited Edition Cherry Pop Rocks Crackling Candy, Anniversary Pack From The 70’s, which noted “Still Popping After 30 Years.”

    Imagine: You and Pop Rock.
    Born the same year.

    If I lived closer, I’d buy you a carton of the packs so you could hand them out to celebrate turning 30.

    You: Still Popping After 30 Years!

  4. I agree with you about Christian fiction, with the exceptions being “This Present Darkness” and “Piercing the Darkness.” These two books opened doors that no other authors have walked through…as yet.

    And I’m half-Dutch also. But as someone once said, “Half-Dutch is more than enough around here, especially for us normal people.”

  5. Hope you had an excellent birthday, Amy. That photo always makes me smile, Ellie stuffing cherry tomatoes
    in her mouth, and your expression- priceless!

    In your blog you mention that you’re not a big fan of current Christian fiction. It’s been hard for me to find a good read, there’s tons of poorly written fluff, or ‘hide under the covers’ frightening books.
    I’ve been browsing the used book stores looking for things written 20 or 30 years ago and have found some truly good works. Hoping you’ll continue to review the new releases and pass on your opinions to the rest of us. Thanks.

  6. I. agree. wholeheartedly (on your remarks re: Christian fiction)! And I totally loved your review. (I found your link through Semicolon. No need to enter me into the drawing…I’m just loving your review style.)

    I feel compelled to subscribe to see what else you have to say about books and reading in general. Again, awesome review.

  7. And the winner is….”Larry Who”! I used a random number generator to pick the winner. http://www.random.org/ . Thanks to all who commented, and for the lovely birthday wishes!

  8. I read the book, and I agree 100% with your book review. What’s missing within the pages is gripping conflict which causes readers to turn the pages.

    And yet, I assume the author wrote the story more as a teaching tool than as an exciting novel.

    Clive Cussler (The Writer, July,2009)writes: “If you’ve got a winning concept and you’ve told it right, someday a stranger will come up to you and say, ‘I’m a slow reader and only go through two books a year, but I finished yours in two days and really enjoyed it.’ You can’t ask for finer praise than that.”

    AL: Ah, Clive Cussler books. I’ve used those for many an airplane voyage. They do well at passing the time. There’s something to be said for captivating fiction. Dan Brown’s novels work that way for me as well. It helps if you just don’t think TOO much about them.

    I’m so impressed you actually read the Sisterchicks book. They probably have a greater appeal for the 40-60 female audience, which is the greatest market for Christian booksellers (one of the main reasons they sell so well). Glad you agreed with my assessment. And I like your point about it being a teaching tool, which could be said to be the main purpose for many a contemporary Christian novel. Now, all they need to do is balance the ethos with a little more pathos and logos (per Aristotle), and they’ll have it down.


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