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Reader Spotlight

Blog name: The Books and Biscuits Blog
Blog URL: http://booksandbiscuits.com/blog/
Your name: Brittany at the Books and Biscuits Blog

First, let’s start with how you initially started reviewing mainly Christian fiction books on your own blog:

I actually started the Books and Biscuits Blog after being cooped up for a few too many days trying to recover from a winter cold. However, my focus on Christian fiction was never as spur of the moment as that story implies.

The women in my family have read Christian fiction for years, oftentimes sending bags of books between houses. I absolutely fell in love with those books! They contained incredible stories with fun and interesting characters.  Plus, Christian fiction is particularly known for its clean content and language, making it a great place to start reading “adult” fiction at a relatively early age.

I ended up reading Christian fiction throughout college and grad school, which I partially credit for keeping me sane through those stress-filled years. By the time I wrapped up my degrees, I was left with extensive writing skills, a few too many academic book reviews in my files, and a head filled with great stories. My family became used to hearing my verbal reviews of the various books I was reading at any given time. By the time the Books and Biscuits Blog went live, I already had a backlog of reviews ready to go from my own collection of books.

What are your favorite aspects of Christian fiction,as a genre? And, do you find there are any unique qualities amongst those interested in these books, that perhaps isn’t a characteristic of other literary communities?

My favorite aspects of Christian fiction come down to a few simple concepts. There’s a phrase “good, clean fun” that I think really fits the genre. It takes incredible talent to write a story and develop characters that fit that description.

I would also say that the genre leaves the reader thinking, even as it offers a mental escape. Many stories and fables used to be focused around moral concepts and lessons to be learned, using a fictionalized approach to teach, as well as entertain. Christian fiction very much captures this otherwise disappearing element of storytelling. Many of the authors present a moral quandary or challenge for their characters that reflects Biblical principles, as well as many of the timeless problems that readers face in their own lives. I know as a teenager, I found great comfort and lessons within Christian fiction, as it illustrated realistic challenges and those who overcame them, whether in a historic or contemporary setting.

Additionally, I am always amazed at the diversity within the genre. I focus my blog on contemporary, historical, and suspense Christian fiction. However, there are other bloggers that write about other sub-categories in the genre, including fantasy, Amish, science fiction, young adult, mystery, and children’s, as well as countless other non-fiction works released by many of the same publishers. The genre also comes in many forms, as authors are constantly releasing novels, novellas, and short stories, while frequently collaborating with one another to develop collections and series.

In terms of a unique quality, I would say that the people themselves really make the Christian fiction genre. As a reader, the books are wonderful. As a blogger, I have also had the opportunity to partner with the authors, publishers, and other people involved in and around the field. Their perspective adds another level to the genre, as you come to understand the unique perspectives that they bring to their work. In many cases, the people affiliated with Christian fiction see their writing as a ministry and vocation. Their blogs are particularly focused on their walk as Christians and connect with readers on a level that I’ve never seen in any other genre.

Do you have a particular approach to writing reviews for books? Has your style evolved over the years, particularly since becoming a blogger?

LOL! Yes, I do have a rather quirky and particular approach to writing reviews. After spending enough time in academia, I focus my Christian fiction book reviews on many of the same areas of analysis that I would for an academic text. If you read any of the reviews, you’ll notice that there is somewhat of a set formula for my writing. As I’ve posted my reviews in more places, I have started adding just a tad more “fluff,” as they can otherwise come across as being overly formal. Regardless, I try to present an honest perspective of the books that I read, which does include some constructive criticism. The hardest part of writing the reviews is actually posting them on other websites where people can indicate if they are “helpful” or not. It can be exceptionally frustrating, especially in the cases where I end up writing a constructive review. I don’t think most people skimming through reviews on a website realize that I’m not necessarily the “average” reviewer, but bring a level of expertise to my work.

Which upcoming books on NetGalley are you the most excited about recommending? Are there any reviews you’re currently working on that you’re particularly excited to share on your blog?

I’m very excited about some of the upcoming books for this spring! Becky Wade’s Her One and Only releases in early May, which wraps up the Porter Family series that she’s been writing for years. Also, I just finished reading Karen Witemeyer’s forthcoming June release, No Other Will Do.  Based on that book and Ms. Witemeyer’s blog posts, I’m already really looking forward to her next novel, which also focuses on the same town and group of characters as No Other Will Do.  Both Her One and Only and No Other Will Do are excellent, fun-filled reads that really capture the heart of the genre.

Her One and Only     No Other Will Do  

Your blog also focuses on cooking, as your blog name suggests – do you find these two interests intertwine? For instance, do you ever find inspiration from the books you’ve read to try a new recipe?

Yes, the blog does actually focus on cooking, too. My husband and I spend an incredible amount of time sitting at the dinner table talking about all sorts of topics. Our conversations around books and food are pretty much legendary in the family, so creating a blog about those two topics felt like a natural connection.

After creating the blog, I started noticing just how often the concepts of food and cooking come up as a frequent theme. I created a “Foodie Characters” tag to use on my reviews and I’m very surprised at how often I find myself using it. Looking at the genre, I’m not too surprised that’s the case, as a fair number of authors also include recipes in the back pages of their books.

Lightning round!

Your blog in 2 sentences:

A fun look at Christian fiction, with weekly reviews of some of the newest books in the genre.

Your favorite author(s):

I can’t say that I have one favorite author, but I definitely have a top tier of authors whose books I make sure to read immediately after they are released.

In alphabetical order: Sandra Bricker, Elizabeth Camden, Deeanne Gist, Rachel Hauck, Dee Henderson, Sarah Sundin, Melissa Tagg, Becky Wade, Susan May Warren, and Karen Witemeyer.

Book you’d like to see on the big screen:

I’m not typically a fan of the movies based on books in the genre, because they oftentimes come across as being really cheesy. However, it would be neat if someone could figure out how to make a great movie based on any of the books by Rachel Hauck.

And to finish off our interview, if you could go on a road trip with any author, dead or alive, who would it be, and where would you go?

I would have to say Melissa Tagg. We collaborated on a blog post early last year, which was an absolute blast!  Rather than going somewhere specific, I could see us doing something together related to nonprofits and philanthropy, since we both work in that field for our day jobs. 🙂

Thanks so much Brittany, for spending time with us and answering our questions!
Please make sure to check out Books and Biscuits and more Christian books available on NetGalley! 

Would you like to nominate your blog, or a blog you admire, to be featured in our Blogger Spotlight series? Fill out this form!

*Interviewed by Tarah Theoret

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