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The Librarian of Boone’s Hollow by Kim Vogel Sawyer

About the Book

Title: The Librarian of Boone’s Hollow

Author: Kim Vogel Sawyer

Publisher: Waterbrook-Multnomah

Genre: Christian Historical Romance

A traveling librarian ventures into the mining towns of Kentucky on horseback and rediscovers her passions in this powerful novel from the best-selling author of A Silken Thread.

During the Great Depression, Addie Cowherd dreams of being a novelist and offering readers the escape that books gave her during her tragic childhood. When her adoptive father loses his job, she is forced to leave college and take the only employment she can find–delivering books on horseback to poor coal mining families in the hills of Kentucky.

The small community of Boone’s Hollow is suspicious of outsiders and steeped in superstitions that leave Addie feeling rejected and indignant. Although she finds an unexpected friend in an elderly outcast, the other horseback librarians scorn her determination to befriend Nanny Fay.

Emmett Tharp grew up in the tiny mountain hamlet where most men either work in the coal mine or run moonshine. He’s the first in the community to earn a college degree, and he has big dreams, but witnesses the Depression robbing many young men of their future.

Then someone sets out to sabotage the library program, going so far as to destroy Addie’s novel in progress. Will the saboteur chase Addie and the other librarians away, or will knowledge emerge victorious over prejudice? Is Emmett the local ally that Addie needs–and might their friendship lead to something more?

Inspired by the real WPA program that sent librarians on horseback to deliver books to hill families in Kentucky, Kim Vogel Sawyer immersed herself in Appalachian history to tell this captivating story.

My Impressions

A while back, some polls were taken of Christian fiction readers. Many said their favorite fiction book of all time was Catherine Marshall’s Christy. Now we are blessed with several Christy-like books on the market. Certainly, the Appalachia of times gone by has a nostalgic pull for readers.
Kim Vogel Sawyer’s depiction of the Kentucky hills and her proud, but superstitious people will sate some of the longings to know these people who lived by their own code of honor. It wasn’t enough to live in the hills, one needed to be born and bred in the hills, know the neighbors from birth, and adhere to the superstitions.


In 1936, Addie Cowherd and Emmett Tharp, near strangers, and separate of each other, leave college in Lexington, KY, and attempt to make their respective homes in Boone’s Hollow (pronounced ”Holler” by the mountain folk). Emmett is rejected because of his outside education; Addie, for being a total stranger to an area where being a stranger ”like to as not” can get you shot on sight.
Sawyer shows us throughout the story what life in the mountains could be like. Superstitions run high, distrust of strangers is learned early, family feuds are fed for generations, and anyone stepping off the mountain is seen as a traitor.
Stills hide in the trees, feeding addiction, which then, in turn, feeds abuse, yet neighbors refuse to break the ”code of honor.”


I couldn’t believe that at the end of the story, Ms. Sawyer had me loving the person she had shown unlovable. That’s talent! And those are characters- who can forgive that mightily! So much to learn, more than even reading, from the people of ”Boone Holler.”
My two favorite characters (who like to be too shy to take a bow) would be Emmett’s mother, Damaris, and Nanny Fay. They just might could be the backbone of the mountain.
I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher through NetGalley. I also bought my own copy, to be sure I didn’t miss it. All opinions are my own, and no positive review was required.
Notable Quotables:
“…yawning during a sermon is most certainly a sin.”
“Just ’cause nobody else knows you done somethin’ extra special don’t mean it ain’t special.”
”She’d cracked that mirror herself so her soul could escape if the mirror captured it, but she didn’t want to take no chances by looking at herself too long.”

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Magnificent!

About the Author

Award-winning, bestselling author Kim Vogel Sawyer told her kindergarten teacher that someday people would check out her book in the library. The little-girl dream came true in 2006 with the release of Waiting for Summer’s Return. Kim’s titles now exceed 1.5 million copies and are available in six different languages. A former elementary school teacher, she now enjoys a full-time writing and speaking ministry. Kim’s passion lies in writing stories that point the reader to a deeper, more intimate relationship with God. When Kim isn’t writing, you’ll find her traveling with her retired military hubby, spoiling her granddarlings, petting the cats, quilting, or–as time allows–participating in community theater. You can learn more about Kim’s writing and speaking ministries at her website, KimVogelSawyer.com. 

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Being Known, #2 Haven Makers by Robin Jones Gunn

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About the Book

Title: Being Known

Series: #2 Haven Makers

Author: Robin Jones Gunn

Genre: Inspirational Contemporary

After her mom passed away, Jennalyn was in the midst of moving, having a baby, and helping her husband work toward his dream job. At the time, she thought she processed the shock and loss, but only now that Jennalyn has two small children, a lovely new home, a lucrative side hustle with her art, and a husband who is always working does she feel the full impact of the loss.

Enter an old boyfriend who knew Jennalyn well and who shares many fond memories of her mom. Jennalyn begins to doubt her marriage and all her other life choices ever since her mom passed away. It takes the power of truth, close friends who know her well, and a series of choices at the heart level before Jennalyn can surface from the confusion and see with clarity where her life is headed.

 

My Review

I’ve never read a novel like this one. The story is almost a “reality novel,” as true-to-life as possible, about the lives of five young women. Most of the ladies are married with children. This narrative centers mostly on Jennalynn and her marriage to Joel, but it also highlights the other women, especially Tess. While second in a series, the book stands alone well.
I loved how Jennalynn, Christy, and their friends have developed a very special Christian support group. As such they are not only physically present for each other, but help guard each other emotionally and spiritually.

“Love grows in fields of grace, not in ruts of shame.”
Jennalyn finds her relationship with Joel on slippery ground as a result of his long work hours and her not being willing to confide her innermost issues.
While the book isn’t “preachy,” its goal is to teach and guide through some of the life issues that occur. It could possibly be used in counseling, and every young Christian wife should read it to gain real insight in how to make wise choices.
About the edible oils…Many will argue that NO oils should be ingested.
Notable Quotables:

“Love grows in fields of grace, not in ruts of shame.”

“...your word for the year was like
“…your word for the year was like a love note from the Lord.”
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and Waterbrook-Multnomah. This in no way influences my opinions, which are solely my own.

 

My Rating

4 Stars – Excellent – I Would Recommend This Book

 

About the Author

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ROBIN JONES GUNN is the much loved author of over 100 books with more than 5.5 million copies of her titles sold worldwide. Her Father Christmas books have been made into 3 Hallmark movies. Her popular Christy Miller series now continues in Christy & Todd: The Married Years and The Baby Years. Robin’s novels and non-fiction works have received multiple awards and are a favorite with book clubs and study groups. Robin and her husband have a grown son and daughter and live in Hawaii.

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Mama Kisses, Papa Hugs by Lisa Tawn Bergren, Illus. by Aleksandar Zolotic

About the Book

Mama Kisses

Author: Lisa Tawn Bergren

Illustrator: Aleksandar Zolotic

Publisher: Waterbrook-Multnomah

Released: March 2020

Audience: 3-7 yr. olds

From the creator of the best-selling God Gave Us You comes a warm exploration of the ways parents show affection–and how it mirrors God’s affection for his followers.

Parents are always looking out for the perfect bedtime book to create a sense of well-being before a night of rest. Mama Kisses, Papa Hugs explores a child’s curiosity about how love is shown between parent and child, with the reassurance that Mama and Papa will always love their little one. And like Lisa Tawn Bergren’s young protagonist asks his mother, this question is pressing on the minds of many children:

“Mama, how does God kiss us?”

Mama smiled. “He kisses us a hundred times a day; although if you don’t pay attention, you might miss it.”

“At night he kisses us with a shooting star. In the morning, he kisses us with sunlight, crawling across the fields and into our windows. On a hot summer afternoon, he kisses us with a gentle breeze. But most of all, he kisses us through our family. That’s how God made us. That’s why I give you Mama kisses.

My Review

Written for children 3-7, Mama Kisses and Papa Hugs by Lisa Tawn Bergren gives Mamas and Papas everywhere a chance to reassure their young children of their never-ending, unchanging love. Children this age want to feel grown-up and cut some ties that they actually need reinforced. They need to know that God made them, God made Mamas and Daddies, and gave them appropriate ways of expressing love. Bergren uses humor and the animal kingdom to spotlight this.
Alexander Zolotic brings his amazingly fresh, vivid, full-page illustrations to enhance these wonderful thoughts. Both the fun animal references and the gorgeous illustrations will keep the little ones turning the pages eagerly as they learn about parents’ and God’s love.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Waterbrook-Multnomah. This in no way affects my opinions, which are solely my own.

My Rating

5 Stars- Superior – Reassuring for Children of Parents’ and God’s Never-ending Love

About the Author

73754Lisa Tawn Bergren is the best-selling, award-winning author of over 50 books, with more than 3 million copies sold. She is in the middle of writing The Sugar Baron’s Daughters Series (KETURAH, VERITY, and SELAH), and recently finished a teen series called Remnants (SEASON OF WONDER, SEASON OF FIRE, and SEASON OF GLORY). She’s also written the River of Time Series (WATERFALL, CASCADE, TORRENT, BOURNE & TRIBUTARY, DELUGE) and The Grand Tour Series (GLAMOROUS ILLUSIONS, GRAVE CONSEQUENCES, GLITTERING PROMISES). She recently released a new time-slip romance duology called River of Time: California (THREE WISHES and FOUR WINDS).

Lisa’s time is split between managing home base, writing, consulting and helping Tim with his business. Her husband Tim is a sculptor of ducks-out-of-fenceposts (RMRustic.com), graphic designer and musician. They have three big kids–Olivia (who just got married), Emma (who just got back from Europe) and Jack (who is about to start high school).

The Bergrens make their home in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

 

About the Illustrator

From early childhood, Aleksandar Zolotic used his vivid imagination to create amazing photo-aleksandar_zolotic--squaredrawings, making everyday moments in his life look special. Years later, he studied at the Faculty of Applied Arts in Belgrade, and he’s gone on to win numerous awards for his work.

When not creating interactive worlds or imaginative illustrations, he spends time drinking ice coffee and eating homemade muffins with his wife and reading picture books to his daughter, while preventing his baby son from eating                                                       them.

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The Englisch Daughter by Cindy Woodsmall & Erin Woodsmall

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About the Book

Title: The Englisch Daughter

Author: Cindy Woodsmall & Erin Woodsmall

Publisher: Waterbrook-Multnomah

Released: April 21, 2020 (I had a ARC.)

A marriage is tested in this Old Order Amish novel of longing for renewed love and a path for forgiveness from the best-selling author of Gathering the Threads.

Old Order Amish wife and mother Jemima has put her marriage and family ahead of herself for years. She’s set herself aside. Raising four children, she’s followed all the rules and has been patient in looking forward to her time to chase a dream of her own.

But when she finds out that her life savings for pursuing that dream is gone–and her husband, Roy, has been hiding a child with another woman–her entire world is shattered. Will she be able to listen to God and love Roy’s child? With so much at stake, how can she and Roy fix their relationship before their lives come crashing down?

My Review 

The Englisch Daughter may be an Amish novel, but I was amazed at how much wisdom a married or single person could glean from it. Cindy Woodsmall and Erin Woodsmall have teamed up to write a volume of prose that explores the attitude pits, so easy to fall into, but so hard to escape.
Between the two relationships the Woodsmalls examine, one the marriage of Jemima and Roy, the other the blossoming attraction between Abigail and Chris, we see lies, deceit, cover-ups, and barriers. What will it take for each couple to come to honesty and forgiveness? Can the relationships continue, or will the wrongs done be too great to overcome?

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”When the honeymoon was over…marriage seemed to be a constant war between gratefulness and resentment, between contentment and restlessness, between what was too real and what wasn’t real enough.” Surely this is a truth that a lot of marriages run up against. They will either continue the dance between the two attitudes or choose to let the less needful attitude go.
I also loved another quote that any person who has been married for many years will tell you, in some form.
“…In every long-standing relationship, when life turned emotions on their heads and the only thing one felt was the opposite of what he or she used to feel, love became a decision and it stood the test of time.”
One person I know says, “Every morning I get up and I choose to stay married today.”
Surprisingly, it isn’t just Chris and Roy who need to make changes. Jemima and Abigail discover they also harbor attitudes that need to be forgiven, barriers that need to be lowered, and they both need to be vulnerable.

The Englisch Daughter 2

In case this sounds like a book full of only ruminations, don’t be fooled for a minute. There are boxing fights, fights with baseball bats, a horse farm disease, a tiny baby whose existence is threatened, then a lot of suspense about the baby’s living arrangements. No time for boring here. Plus you will relate to the tenseness of several situations the characters find themselves in, and you may just sigh with relief when life seems to right itself again. There are study questions (that would make this an excellent book club pick)and also a glossary in the back of the book.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Waterbrook-Multnomah. This in no way affects my opinions, for which I am solely responsible.

My Rating

5 Stars- Hits My Reading Sweet Spot – People are the same despite our differences. There is much here the reader can relate to.

 

About the Author

117290Cindy Woodsmall is a New York Times and CBA best-selling author who has written nineteen (and counting!) works of fiction and one of nonfiction. She and her dearest Old Order Amish friend, Miriam Flaud, coauthored the nonfiction, Plain Wisdom: An Invitation into an Amish Home and the Hearts of Two Women. Cindy’s been featured on ABC Nightline and the front page of the Wall Street Journal, and has worked with National Geographic on a documentary concerning Amish life. In June of 2013, the Wall Street Journal listed Cindy as one of the top three Amish fiction writers.

She is also a veteran homeschool mom who no longer holds that position. As her children progressed in age, her desire to write grew stronger. After working through reservations whether this desire was something she should pursue, she began her writing journey. Her husband was her staunchest supporter as she aimed for what seemed impossible.

She’s won Fiction Book of the Year, Reviewer’s Choice Awards, Inspirational Reader’s Choice Contest, as well as one of Crossings’ Best Books of the Year. She’s been a finalist for the prestigious Christy, Rita, and Carol Awards, Christian Book of the Year, and Christian Retailers Choice Awards.

Her real-life connections with Amish Mennonite and Old Order Amish families enrich her novels with authenticity. Though she didn’t realize it at the time, seeds were sown years ago that began preparing Cindy to write these books. At the age of ten, while living in the dairy country of Maryland, she became best friends with Luann, a Plain Mennonite girl. Luann, like all the females in her family, wore the prayer Kapp and cape dresses. Her parents didn’t allow television or radios, and many other modern conveniences were frowned upon. During the numerous times Luann came to Cindy’s house to spend the night, her rules came with her and the two were careful to obey them—afraid that if they didn’t, the adults would end their friendship. Although the rules were much easier to keep when they spent the night at Luann’s because her family didn’t own any of the forbidden items, both sets of parents were uncomfortable with the relationship and a small infraction of any kind would have been enough reason for the parents to end the relationship. While navigating around the adults’ disapproval and the obstacles in each other’s lifestyle, the two girls bonded in true friendship that lasted into their teen years, until Cindy’s family moved to another region of the US.

As an adult, Cindy became friends with a wonderful Old Order Amish family who opened their home to her. Although the two women, Miriam and Cindy, live seven hundred miles apart geographically, and a century apart by customs, when they come together they never lack for commonality, laughter, and dreams of what only God can accomplish through His children. Over the years Cindy has continued to make wonderful friendships with those inside the Amish and Mennonite communities—from the most conservative ones to the most liberal.

Cindy and her husband reside near the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains in their now empty nest.

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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! 

Isaiah's Legacy 1


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. 

Isaiah's Legacy 2


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.

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The King’s Mercy by Lori Benton

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About the Book

Title: The King’s Mercy

Author: Lori Benton

Publisher: Waterbrook-Multnomah

To be Released: June 4, 2019

For readers of Sara Donati and Diana Gabaldon, this epic historical romance tells of fateful love between an indentured Scotsman and a daughter of the 18th-century colonial south.

When captured rebel Scotsman Alex MacKinnon is granted the king’s mercy–exile to the Colony of North Carolina–he’s indentured to Englishman Edmund Carey as a blacksmith. Against his will, Alex is drawn into the struggles of Carey’s slaves–and those of his stepdaughter, Joanna Carey. A mistress with a servant’s heart, Joanna is expected to wed her father’s overseer, Phineas Reeves, but finds herself drawn instead to the new blacksmith. As their unlikely relationship deepens, successive tragedies strike the Careys. When blame falls unfairly upon Alex he flees to the distant mountains where he encounters Reverend Pauling, itinerate preacher and friend of the Careys, now a prisoner of the Cherokees. Haunted by his abandoning of Joanna, Alex tries to settle into life with the Cherokees, until circumstances thwart yet another attempt to forge his freedom and he’s faced with the choice that’s long hounded him: continue down his rebellious path or embrace the faith of a man like Pauling, whose freedom in Christ no man can steal. But the price of such mercy is total surrender, and perhaps Alex’s very life.

My Review:

Lori Benton is an unknown author to me before now. Now I know why she is a favorite of many, and her new book, The King’s Mercy, is so greatly anticipated. Scheduled for release on June 4, (2019), I obtained an ARC through Waterbrook-Multnomah, the publisher. 
Ah, Benton had me at the double entendre title. How I love these. Obviously, we are talking about the mercy of two very different kings. Captured at the Scottish battle of Culloden, Alex McKinnon is spared death three times before he receives the true “king’s mercy,” banishment to the colonies as an indentured slave. I was impressed by how scornfully the phrase “the king’s mercy” was uttered by those who were unfortunate enough to receive it. Just a day after I finished this wonderful book, I encountered this telling verse in Proverbs 12:10: “Whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast, but the mercy of the wicked is cruel.” (ESV) 
So we have established there is a lot of emotion-anger. There is also love, confusion, subterfuge, greed, avarice, helplessness, and an intense longing for freedom. As I reminisce about this sweeping saga, I am tempted to divide people into two groups: slave and free. Interestingly enough, the groups are not iron-clad, and it might be surprising who could land in each category. Who is really enslaved, and who is truly free? 
So many characters to like, some to love, others to despise. 
My favorite character is Alex. He is sensitive, humble, and empathetic to the pain of others’, be it Joanna’s loss of a friendship years ago; Elijah’s inability to work the smithy following his accident; or Jemma’s inability to fit in where expected. He still had a few flaws, but wouldn’t we all like to hear this: 
“…I don’t think it right or true that you be defined by a single choice.” 
And the quotes. Benton speaks well to present-day. 
“Ye’ve always had that about ye, a need for a purpose beyond yourself. ‘Tis the Almighty knit ye so.” We are all made in God’s image, with a purpose beyond just living for ourselves. 
When all seemed bad enough to drive one to insanity: “So be the iron. Bend with the heat.” 
“Despite her best intentions, she was playing the part of Martha again when she longed to be Mary, sitting at the preacher’s feet.”  
“If ye draw lines between yourself and folk, the least ye can do is keep to your side of them.” 
“…it was her very life that vexed her, its burdens, its injustices. She wanted freedom as badly as he.” 

 

_Whatever we pour our treasure into will ultimately captivate our hearts. What captivates our hearts we worship. What we worship remakes us-into its image._ (1).png

 

 

 

 

“Whatever we pour our treasure into will ultimately captivate our hearts. What captivates our hearts we worship. What we worship remakes us— into its image.”  
One issue I had is that historicals that mention several real places should always have maps. How frustrating to have locations referred to repeatedly, but have no idea where they really are. I found Cape Fear on a map; other locations I could only wonder. 
Finally, I liked very much the author’s note of explanation concerning the fact the story is loosely based on Biblical characters. Where truth and fiction collided, I found the characters true to Scripture. Well-done, Lori Benton!! 
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Waterbrook-Multnomah. No positive review was required and all opinions are my own. 

My Rating: 

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About the Author:

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Lori Benton was born and raised east of the Appalachian Mountains, surrounded by early American and family history going back to the 1600s. Her novels transport readers to the 18th century, where she brings to life the Colonial and early Federal periods of American history, creating a melting pot of characters drawn from both sides of a turbulent and shifting frontier, brought together in the bonds of God’s transforming grace.

When she isn’t writing, reading, or researching 18th-century history, Lori enjoys exploring the mountains with her husband.

Burning Sky, Lori’s debut novel, was a finalist for the ECPA 2014 Christian Book Award, and winner of the 2014 Christy Award for First Novel, Historical, and Book of the Year.

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Of Fire and Lions by Mesu Andrews

ABOUT THE BOOK:

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TITLE: Of Fire and Lions

AUTHOR: Mesu Andrews

PUBLISHER: Waterbrook-Multnomah

PUBLISHED: March  2019

The Old Testament book of Daniel comes to life in this novel for readers of Lynn Austin’s Chronicles of the Kings series or Francine Rivers’ Mark of the Lion series.

Survival. A Hebrew girl first tasted it when she escaped death nearly seventy years ago as the Babylonians ransacked Jerusalem and took their finest as captives. She thought she’d perfected in the many years amongst the Magoi and the idol worshippers, pretending with all the others in King Nebuchadnezzar’s court. Now, as Daniel’s wife and a septuagenarian matriarch, Belili thinks she’s safe and she can live out her days in Babylon without fear–until the night Daniel is escorted to Belshazzar’s palace to interpret mysterious handwriting on a wall. The Persian Army invades, and Bellili’s tightly-wound secrets unfurl with the arrival of the conquering army. What will the reign of Darius mean for Daniel, a man who prays to Yahweh alone?
Ultimately, Yahweh’s sovereign hand guides Jerusalem’s captives, and the frightened Hebrew girl is transformed into a confident woman, who realizes her need of the God who conquers both fire and lions.

 

MY REVIEW:

Of Fire and Lions by Mesu Andrews lives up to its exciting, exotic name. It will be one of my faves for 2019!! Such a complex story, so many deep emotions, and such great God lessons set against the impossibly capricious and precarious times of the rising and waning Babylonian empire. Themes of faithfulness to Yahweh, the strength of love, HIS forgiveness, restoration with family, secrets, and so much more. My heart is so full, I would urge anyone with an interest in Biblical history to read Andrews’ well-researched and amazingly crafted account of Daniel.
One of the themes I found most applicable to my life: What is more important? Personal comfort or following God’s Will? Ouch!!
Quote(The heart-rending cry of many a parent, including myself):
“ ‘I failed to convince the people I love most that Yahweh is real.’
‘You have not failed, and you can’t convince them. Only Yahweh can work in a heart to help those we love to believe. We must simply love them with an honest and transparent heart.’ “
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Waterbrook-Multnomah. I am not required to leave a positive review and all opinions are solely my own.
 

MY RATING:

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Copy of Copy of Of Fire and Lions

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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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 imagine, 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.