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To Dwell Among Cedars, #1 The Covenant House by Connilyn Cossette

About the Book

Title: To Dwell Among Cedars

Series: #1 The Covenant House

Author: Connilyn Cossette

Publisher: Bethany House

Released: December 2020

Genre: Biblical Fiction

Eight years ago, when the Philistines stole and then surrendered the ark of the covenant back to the Israelites, Eliora left her Philistine homeland to follow the ark to the community of Kiryat Yearim. There, the family she was adopted into has guarded the ark at the top of a mountain in seclusion.

Ronen is a Levite musician determined to secret away the ark to a more fitting resting place, watched over by priests who would restore the Holy of Holies. He never expected that the Philistine girl he rescued years ago would now be part of the very family he’s tasked to deceive.

As Ronen’s attempts to charm Eliora lead them in unexpected directions, betrayal leaves Eliora with strained family ties and Ronen questioning his own loyalties. Ultimately, Eliora and Ronen are caught up in the battle for the soul of Israel and its future under the leadership of Samuel, the last judge before the era of the kings begins. 

My Impressions

My heart is full upon completion of reading Connilyn Cossette’s newest offering, To Dwell Among Cedars, #1 The Covenant House. This Biblical fiction book contains everything I am looking for in its genre. Scriptural accuracy, while approaching an age-old narrative of Israel in Samuel’s time from a unique viewpoint of Philistine Arisa (Eliora). Cossette vividly portrays all the emotions- the terror, the fear, the astonishment, the romance, and the suspense. As the uncertainty of being orphans at the whims and mercy of others is clearly shown, I couldn’t help myself from being drawn into Eliora’s life as she struggles for a sense of belonging and security, and ultimate love. Though she and Lukio(Natan) are adopted by generous and loving priest Elazer and his family, Eliora always feels herself an outcast.
Ronen, a member of an different priestly line than Elazer, first finds Arisa and Lukio(Natan) as they follow the Ark back into Israeli territory after its Philistine capture. An orphan himself, he deals with some of the same insecurities of not belonging as Eliora. These are a driving force in his thoughts and actions. There we have wonderful, multiple storylines going.


I loved Connilyn’s style-immediately warm and enticing you into the narrative, enveloping you into the ancient Biblical events very quickly.
Cossette sets the stage with some unusual premises. Not once did I feel that believability was stretched. One other point that makes me greatly treasure this novel is the many nuggets of truth shared and spoken naturally in uncontrived conversation. Connilyn Cossette is a master in her world of Biblical fiction. I am very sad it will be another year before we can read Natan (Lukio’s) story.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author, as well as NetGalley. I am voluntarily leaving this review. All thoughts are my own.

Notable Quotables:

“There is no magic in the box itself, Arisa. The power is that of the hand of Yahweh. It is merely a vessel, but one that signifies the sacred covenant between Israel and our God and above which has hovered the very shekinah of the Eternal One.”

”But the Eternal One was not made by man; there is no place you can go that he will not be with you.”

”He is the God Who Sees. There is no place you can go to escape his vigilant watch over you.”

”It is not the Ark you must follow, my precious child. It is the God who made you.”

”…So why do you work so hard for a place at their table when you already have one?”…”you are working so hard to earn something you’ve already been given.”

”Because you are the woman the Creator made you to be, no matter where you come from or what you look like.”

”No matter what decision I made, the cost would be great… the cost of going against the will of the Eternal One was greater by far.”

My Rating

Magnificent!

About the Author

Connilyn Cossette is a Christy Award and Carol Award winning author whose books have been found on both ECPA and CBA bestseller lists. When she is not engulfed in the happy chaos of homeschooling two teenagers, devouring books whole, or avoiding housework, she can be found digging into the rich ancient world of the Bible to discover gems of grace that point to Jesus and weaving them into an immersive fiction experience. Although she and her husband have lived all over the country in their twenty-plus years of marriage, they currently call a little town south of Dallas, Texas their home. Connect with her at www.ConnilynCossette.com 
Bethany House, Biblical Fiction, BLOG, Favorite, NetGalley

Like Flames in the Night, #4 Cities of Refuge by Connilyn Cossette

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About the book

Title: Like Flames in the Night

Series: Cities of Refuge, #4

Author: Connilyn Cossette

Publisher: Bethany House

Released: March 2020

Strong-willed Tirzah wants to join her people in driving the enemy from the land of Israel and undergoes training for a secret mission inside the stronghold of Shechem. But soon after she has infiltrated the ruthless Aramean commander’s kitchen, she makes a reckless decision that puts her and her allies in grave danger.

Fresh off the battlefield, Liyam returns home to discover his beloved daughter is dead. After his vow to hunt down her killer leads to months of fruitless pursuit, his last hope is in a family connection that comes with strings attached. Strings that force him to pose as a mercenary and rescue an infuriating woman who refuses to leave her mission uncompleted.

When an opportunity to pave a path to a Hebrew victory arises, can Tirzah convince Liyam to fight alongside her in the refuge city of her birth? Or will Liyam’s thirst for vengeance outweigh his duty to his people, his God, and the woman he’s come to love?

 

My Review

Connilynn Cossette consistently brings us novels of Biblical times that draw the readers in and make us believe that we are part of the ancient world she has flung open like a door. Like Flames in the Night is a tale of the nation of Israel as it is terrorized by the cruel Arameans, with Othniel leading the resistance. More specifically, we meet brave, bold Tirzah, who yearns to do her part to free the Hebrew people. Liyam is a warrior who loses his faith when he loses his dearest possessions. Somehow these two are key players in Israel’s struggle to be free. 

Tirzah is a highly relatable character because she has several brothers and is very comfortable competing against them. Many female readers will either relate to the idea of competing with brothers or just wanting their contributions to be as valued as men’s. Some may say that women leaders were unheard of in Israeli history, but we can easily recall names of heroines such as Miriam, Deborah the judge, or Esther. I love how Tirzah slowly recognizes that Yahweh Himself has spoken through her outspoken personality. God uses us as we are. 

Ah, Liyam. Heartthrob, spy, blood-avenger. He looks so good in his protective role, one might actually think he can let go of his blood-lust. What a tension this creates as Tirzah’s family tells their own history, and multiple friends urge the angry Hebrew to pursue life, not death. But is that even possible for Liyam? 

I almost forgot Odeleya. She will worm her way into your heart and find a permanent spot.  

If you like Biblical fiction, you need to add this last book in Cities of Refuge series to your collection. You could read this book as a stand-alone, but the series is too great. You will want to read all four books in Connilynn Cossette’s series.  

So many “notable quotables.” I will keep them to just a few. 

“Has Yahweh disappeared? Or has the power that split the sea diminished since the Arameans took control? Or have we simply forgotten who we are?” 

flames in the night 1

“…where the black shadow of Har Ebal stood, and at its peak, the altar of Yehoshua.  “A fire will burn there again soon. And when it does, be assured that it was your iron strike against our flint hearts that created the first spark.” 

“But it is our duty as men consecrated by Adonai Most High to speak truth. We have hidden too long in our homes, cowering, keeping His Words locked in our hearts instead of on our tongues.” 

flames in the night 2

“If the people of Yahweh rise up and remember who they are, nothing will stop our armies from being victorious over the Arameans this time. Nothing.” 

“Who was I to speak to the mind of the Eternal One? Or to turn my face away from the gifts he’d given me?  Perhaps even the trials I had endured were gifts in a way, making me stronger, wiser, more prepared to accomplish his purposes.” 

“Justice without mercy was tyranny, and mercy without justice was lawlessness.” 

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House and the author. This in no way influenced my opinions, which I am voluntarily leaving. I am solely responsible for these opinions. 

My Rating

5 Stars – Superior – Hits My Reading Sweet Spot

About the author

14134437Connilyn Cossette is the Carol Award Winning and ECPA Bestselling author of the Out from Egypt Series and the Cities of Refuge Series from Bethany House Publishers. When she’s not engulfed in the happy chaos of homeschooling two teenagers, devouring books whole, or avoiding housework, she can be found digging into the rich ancient world of the Bible. She delights in discovering new gems of grace that point to Jesus and weaving them into an immersive fiction experience. Connect with her at www.ConnilynCossette.com

Bethany House, Biblical Fiction, BLOG, Favorite, NetGalley

Until the Mountains Fall, #3 Cities of Refuge, by Connilyn Cossette

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ABOUT THE BOOK

TITLE: Until the Mountains Fall

SERIES: #3 in Cities of Refuge

AUTHOR: Connilyn Cossette

RELEASED: July 2, 2019

Recently widowed, Rivkah refuses to submit to the Torah law compelling her to marry her husband’s brother and instead flees Kedesh, hoping to use her talents as a scribe to support herself. Without the protections of her father, Kedesh’s head priest, and the safety of the city of refuge, Rivkah soon discovers that the cost of recklessness is her own freedom.

Malakhi has secretly loved Rivkah for years, but he never imagined his older brother’s death would mean wedding her himself. After her disappearance, he throws himself into the ongoing fight against the Canaanites instead of dwelling on all he has lost. But with impending war looming over Israel, Rivkah’s father comes to Malakhi with an impossible request.

As the enemies that Rivkah and Malakhi face from without and within Israel grow more threatening each day, is it too late for the restoration their wounded souls seek?

Get your copy of the book here.

MY REVIEW

Travel back in time and cultures to a land so different from ours, yet so very alike. Israel is a young nation, yet they are already leaving their first love. Compromise and complacency coupled with a blatant refusal to follow the Creator Who has led them to the new land leaves them vulnerable and divided.
It is against this thrilling backdrop we meet Rivkah, a widow who is promised to her husband’s brother. To what lengths will Rivkah go to escape an unwanted match, meant to give her security?
Connilyn Cossette is now one of my favorite Biblical historical fiction writers. She sets the scene so well, with meticulous research presented throughout a very engaging story. I suspect there are enough Biblical references, suspense, and masculine thoughts (pov is first person, shifting between Rivkah and Malakhi) that even men would enjoy reading this account. Until the Mountains Fall is the third book of the series, The Cities of Refuge. While sweeter if one has the background of the other two, this novel can certainly stand on its own.
So much emotion is packed into this one volume! So many parallels between ancient Israel and God’s people in a free land today.“We do not know the whole of the story. But Yahweh does, and we trust Him with the outcome.”.png
One issue I grew tired of, I began to realize was simply Malakhi holding a view common to his time and culture. As a woman, I come away from this tremendous work glad that I did not live as a woman of that time. Yet, Cossette also points out the need for women to be treated humanely and loved well, which would have erased much of the burden of being a woman at that time.
Favorite quotes.
“The more prosperous we’d grown, the less generous we’d become with those who’d been appointed to serve Yahweh and were therefore unable to inherit land of their own.”
“We do not know the whole of the story. But Yahweh does, and we will trust Him with the outcome.”

Copy of The more prosperous we’d grown, the less generous we’d become with those who’d been appointed to serve Yahweh and were therefore unable to inherit land of their own.
“So many of our young people don’t care enough to defend this land, Malakhi. They’ve given in to compromise. It’s all too easy to sit back and take tribute from the Canaanites, profiting off our disobedience instead of finishing what Yehoshua and Calev started. We need men to stand and fight with careless abandon. If your generation does not take heed, we would do better to strap on our sandals and walk right back to Egypt, because the enemies that surround us here have nothing to lose and everything to gain.”
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley. This did not affect my opinions, which are solely my own.

MY RATING

golden-stargolden-stargolden-stargolden-stargolden-star

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

14134437Connilyn Cossette is the CBA-Bestselling, Christy Nominated author of the Out from Egypt Series and the Cities of Refuge Series from Bethany House Publishers. When she’s not engulfed in the happy chaos of homeschooling two teenagers, devouring books whole, or avoiding housework, she can be found digging into the rich ancient world of the Bible. She delights in discovering new gems of grace that point to Jesus and weaving them into an immersive fiction experience. Although she and her husband have lived all over the country in the last twenty-plus years, they currently call North Carolina home.