Biblical Fiction, BLOG, Favorite, PB, Waterbrook-Multnomah

Isaiah’s Legacy, #3 A Novel of Prophets and Kings by Mesu Andrews

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About the Book

Title: Isaiah’s Legacy

Series: A Novel of Prophets and Kings

Author: Mesu Andrews

Publisher: Waterbrook-Multnomah

Genre: Biblical Fiction

Released: February 2020

The drama of the Old Testament comes to life as Judah’s most notorious king ascends to the throne in this gripping novel from the award-winning author of Isaiah’s Daughter.

At eight years old, Shulle has known only life in a small village with her loving but peculiar father. When Uncle Shebna offers shelter in Jerusalem in exchange for Shulle’s help tutoring King Manasseh, Judah’s five-year-old co-regent who displays the same peculiarities as her father, she’s eager to experience the royal court. But Shulle soon realizes the limits of her father’s strict adherence to Yahweh’s Law when Uncle Shebna teaches her of the starry hosts and their power.

Convinced Judah must be freed from Yahweh’s chains, she begins the subtle swaying of young Manasseh, using her charm and skills on the boy no one else understands. When King Hezekiah dies, twelve-year-old Manasseh is thrust onto Judah’s throne, bitter at Yahweh and eager to marry the girl he adores. Assyria’s crown prince favors Manasseh and twists his brilliant mind toward cruelty, beginning Shulle’s long and harrowing journey to discover the Yahweh she’d never known, guided with loving wisdom by Manasseh’s mother: Isaiah’s daughter, the heartbroken Hephzibah. Amid Judah’s dark days, a desperate remnant emerges, claiming the Lord’s promise, “Though we’re helpless now, we’re never hopeless–because we serve El Shaddai.” Shulle is among them, a girl who becomes a queen through Isaiah’s legacy.

 

My Review

“Never begin a sentence with ‘Yahweh can’t.’ Our minds are too small to imagine what He can do.” Indeed, Mesu Andrews has tackled the granddaddy of all difficult stories. All my life, as long as I was old enough to understand there were good and bad kings in Judah, Manasseh has been the penultimate bad guy. Evil beyond any king that came before him, the Bible says. The normal person would have given up on this absolutely atrocious Judahite king, but Yahweh did NOT! 

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And this is where Mesu Andrews gets her story. We start at the beginning of Manasseh’s life (or Nasseh ) as righteous Hezekiah’s life is coming to a close. So, the million-dollar question for me, all these years: how does one go from having such a righteous father as Hezekiah to being the most wicked king so far? Andrews has a plausible answer as she draws in characters like Shulle, a young tutor who understands autism (a modern-day plague Andrews gives Nasseh and one we struggle to understand; Shulle’s power-hungry uncle Shebna; and the Babylonian sorceress Belit, determined to rise within the court. We see ZibahNasseh’s beloved mother and her crusty adopted father, Isaiah. Let the power games begin. 

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While it appears to be a play for power behind the throne of Judah, the Yahwists and the sorcery workers know the truth. It is a battle between Good and Evil, the One True God vs. the many false gods of the surrounding nations. 
Love, fear, betrayal, brutality, power-grasping and a search for respect and belonging are all part of this fantastic, sweeping, Biblical saga. Intense, sweet, horrifying at turns, we eventually are pointed to the mercy of a Father longing for the prodigal to return home. 
Such a tragic story (be sure you have at least one box of Kleenex ready), but Andrews explains so well why she wrote it with an eye to imparting hope. 
Your heart will be full by the time your eyes have traversed all the pages of this amazing novel. It would be helpful to have read the first two novels, but unfortunately, I did not beforehand and still found this to be a beautiful book. Thank you, Ms. Andrews. I realized today there is hope for yet another Prodigal in my life! 

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I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and Waterbrook-Multnomah. This is no way influences my opinion, which I have freely given, and for which I am solely responsible. 
 
Notable Quotables: 
“Why questions lead only to doubt. Only Who questions build faith. Who is sovereign over the kings of the universe? Who spoke light into darkness? And Who promised to capture and build Nasseh’s heart?” 
 
“Yahweh did not give me the vision to prevent it but to prepare us for it.” (Isaiah) 
 
“I can do whatever I wish, Ima. I am Judah’s king.” 
 
“A king need never raise his voice. His power is like a trumpet.” 
 
“He’s a child and a king, Shulle. It’s an unwieldy combination.” 
 
“Why questions lead only to doubt. Only Who questions build faith. Who is sovereign over the kings of the universe? Who spoke light into darkness? And Who promised to capture and build Nasseh’s heart?” 
 
“We’re helpless in this moment… but we’re never hopeless. Not as long as we serve El Shaddai, the Almighty One.” 

 

My Rating

5 Stars – Superior – Hits My Reading Sweet Spot and gives me hope for the Prodigals in my life!

About the Author

Mesu grew up with a variegated Christian heritage. With grandparents from the Pilgrim Holiness, Nazarene, and Wesleyan Churches, her dad was a Quaker and mom charismatic. As you might 3513697imagine, God was a central figure in most family discussions, but theology was a battlefield and Scripture the weapon. As a rebellious teenager, Mesu rejected God and His Word, but discovered Jesus as a life-transforming Savior through the changed life of an old friend.

The desire for God’s Word exploded with her new commitment, but devotional time was scarce due to the demands of a young wife and mother. So Mesu scoured the only two theology books available–children’s Bible stories and her Bible. The stories she read to her daughters at night pointed her to the Bible passages she studied all day. She became an avid student of God’s Word, searching historical and cultural settings as well as ancient texts and original languages.

Mesu and her husband Roy have raised those two daughters and now enjoy a tribe of grandkids, who get to hear those same Bible stories. Mesu’s love for God’s Word has never waned. She now writes biblical novels, rich with spiritual insight learned through fascinating discoveries in deep historical research.

Her first novel, Love Amid the Ashes (Revell)–the story of Job and the women who loved him–won the 2012 ECPA Book of the Year in the Debut Author Category. Her subsequent novels have released with high praise, shedding light on some of the shadowy women of Scripture. Love’s Sacred Song (Revell, 2012) tells the story of the beloved shepherdess in King Solomon’s Song of Solomon. Love in a Broken Vessel (Revell, 2013) tells the story of Hosea and Gomer and is the final stand-alone novel in the Treasures of His Love Series. Her fourth novel, In the Shadow of Jezebel (Revell, 2014) tells the fascinating story of Queen Athaliah and the courageous Princess Jehosheba.

The Treasures of the Nile series (Waterbrook/Multnomah, 2015-16) included The Pharaoh’s Daughter and Miriam and spanned Moses’ life from birth to the Exodus. Her 2017 release, Isaiah’s Daughter (Waterbrook/Multnomah), explores the life and ministry of the prophet Isaiah and the tumultuous days of Judah under the reigns of Ahaz and Hezekiah but focuses on the woman Hephzibah–a fascinating character in Jewish legends.

Mesu writes in their log cabin tucked away in the beautiful Appalachian Mountains. Her best friend is an American Staffordshire Terrier named Zeke, who keeps her company on long writing days. Zeke also enjoys watching movies, long walks in the woods, and sitting by the fireplace on rainy days.

Bethany House, BLOG, Favorite, NetGalley, PB

Veiled in Smoke by Jocelyn Green

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About the Book

Title: Veiled in Smoke

Series: The Windy City Saga (#1)

Author: Jocelyn Green

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers

Released: February 4, 2020 ( I read an ARC.)

Genre: Christian Historical

Meg and Sylvie Townsend manage the family bookshop and care for their father, Stephen, a veteran still suffering in mind and spirit from his time as a POW during the Civil War. But when the Great Fire sweeps through Chicago’s business district, they lose much more than just their store.

The sisters become separated from their father, and after Meg burns her hands in an attempt to save a family heirloom, they make a harrowing escape from the flames with the help of Chicago Tribune reporter Nate Pierce. Once the smoke clears away, they reunite with Stephen, only to learn soon after that their family friend not only died during the fire–he was murdered. Even more shocking, Stephen is charged with the crime and committed to the Cook County Insane Asylum. Though homeless, injured, and suddenly unemployed, Meg must not only gather the pieces of her shattered life, but prove her father’s innocence before the asylum truly drives him mad.

My Review

“It was a lie, Meg had realized years ago, that the end of the war meant the end of suffering.” The Civil War is over, and the boys and men who survived are home. Yet Meg and her sister, Sylvie Townsend, discover that Stephen Townsend’s time in notorious Andersonville has wreaked havoc with his grip on reality. Meanwhile, Nathaniel Pierce of the Chicago Tribune interviews Stephen as a veteran. Life becomes murky when the city catches fire and Stephen’s best friend is murdered, leaving Stephen the cops’ main suspect.

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Jocelyn Green is an expert at creating historically accurate and intriguing backgrounds while painting in-depth portraits of her characters. Both Meg and Sylvie exhibit intense loyalty and love for their parents, as well as a great need for their approval. Unfortunately, their understanding of their parents’ love and care is limited by the blinders they wear.
The young ladies also wear blinders when it comes to the young men in their lives. They cannot truly see the love, honesty, and true character(or lack thereof) of their beaux.
So many ideas and themes are presented. Forgiveness. The idea that it’s ok to be imperfect, and in fact, sometimes imperfect is better. Also, accepting life as it is, imperfect, not expecting it to be rosy or requiring others to be perfectly well or perfectly behaved all the time. (Ouch! Preaching to myself!!) True compassion. Sometimes we can’t achieve this until we’ve walked a mile in somebody else’s shoes, or at least had a bit of hardship in life. Faith, believing God is limitless and truly in control.
Two more thoughts. It was hard to breathe as I traveled with Meg and Sylvie and Nate as they desperately tried to outrun the Great Fire. I could smell the smoke, my lungs felt full to bursting, and my anxiety level was high. And then many somethings began falling from the sky!

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I had never heard of the term, “soldier’s heart.” How fitting. How sad. So many times, we, the civilians for whom those men and now women sacrificed, refuse to understand and accept with open arms our vets who return to us.
As usual, Jocelyn Green will have me thinking for a long time to come about people and their treatment of others.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and publisher. No positive response was required. All opinions are my own.
 

My Rating

5 Stars- Hits My Reading Sweet Spot ( and makes me think and think!)

About the Author

2578437Jocelyn Green is a former journalist who puts her investigative skills to work in writing both nonfiction and historical fiction to inspire faith and courage.

The honors her books have received include the Christy Award in historical fiction and gold medals from the Military Writers Society of America and the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association.

Complex and nuanced characters, rich historical detail and twisting plots make her novels immersive experiences. Her fiction has been praised by Historical Novel Society, Romantic Times, Library Journal, historians specializing in her novels’ time periods, as well as popular and acclaimed authors Laura Frantz, Lori Benton, Jody Hedlund, Sarah Sundin, Joanne Bischof, Julie Lessman, and more.

Jocelyn loves Broadway musicals, the color red, strawberry-rhubarb pie, Mexican food, and well-done documentaries. She lives in Iowa with her husband, two children, and two cats she should have named Catticus Finch and Purrman Meowville.

Visit her at jocelyngreen.com.