Shadow of the Storm

ShadowoftheStorm_mck.inddBook Review: Shadow of the Storm

Author: Connilyn Cossette

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Back Cover from Bethany House’s website for Shadow of the Storm:

In the darkness of the storm’s shadow, only truth can light her way.

Having escaped Egypt with the other Hebrews during the Exodus, Shira is now living in freedom at the foot of Mount Sinai. When the people rebel by worshipping a golden idol, the ensuing chaos gives Shira an unexpected opportunity to assist a midwife. When the experience awakens a new desire in her, she defies her mother’s wish for her to continue in the family weaving trade and pursues her heart’s calling as an apprentice midwife.

But when a delivery goes horribly wrong, Shira finds herself in an impossible situation and bound to a man who betrayed her. As contention between the Hebrew tribes and the foreigners fans the flames of another dangerous rebellion, Shira comes face to face with the long-hidden pain of her past. Can she let go of all that has defined her to embrace who she truly is and believe in a hopeful future?

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            I am beyond impressed by this book. I don’t generally venture into Biblical Fiction, because sometimes the facts are distorted or the liberties taken are too much. However, in Shadow of the Storm, Connilyn strikes a great balance. This book is rich in historical detail, but also takes a look at what some of the emotions of the people may have been. The account of what happened to the Israelites after they came out of Egypt does not have many details, so much of this story is just a guess at what it may have been like. However, Connilyn does this with respect towards what the Bible says, staying close to the text.

This is the second book in a series, so I didn’t have some of the background that was supposed to go with it, but that didn’t really hamper my enjoyment of the story. Connilyn’s writing style is easy to understand, but rich in word choice. Each page was a joy to experience. The themes in the book and the message that the characters learned also touched my heart. This was one of my favorite lines:

“‘There will always be storms, Shira. There will be loss in your life, sometimes devastating loss. But if you let the wind and the rain overcome you, then you will never fulfill the purpose for which you were born, the reasons Yahweh gave you breath and brought you to this time, to this place. There will be times when there is nothing you can do but survive, to place one foot after the other into the driving rain.’ Her thin lips flattened. ‘You can tuck your head under your wing for a while, Shira, and wait out this storm. But you will fly again.’”

This book deals with some difficult issues and mature themes in the lives of the characters, but Connilyn does it in a graceful way. I really enjoyed this book, and I highly recommend it. Even for those who aren’t always a fan of Biblical Fiction.

About the Author

Biography from Bethany House’s website: When she is not homeschooling her two sweet kids (with a full pot of coffee at hand), Connilyn Cossette is scribbling notes on spare paper, mumbling about her imaginary friends, and reading obscure, out-of-print history books. There is nothing she likes better than digging into the rich, ancient world of the Bible and uncovering buried gems of grace that point toward Jesus. Her novel Counted With the Stars won the 2013 Frasier Contest and was a semifinalist in the 2013 ACFW Genesis Contest. Although a Pacific Northwest native, she now lives near Dallas, Texas. Connect with her at www.connilyncossette.com

I was provided a copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions expressed are my own.

66 Ways God Loves You, and a Giveaway!

9780718087708-jpgBook Review: 66 Ways God Loves You

Author: Jennifer Rothschild

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Back Cover from Amazon’s website for 66 Ways God Loves You:

66 books, one incredible message

God’s Word is many things—instructive, historical, poetic. Yet to Jennifer Rothschild, the Bible is also an incredible love letter. In 66 Ways God Loves You, she walks you through each of the sixty-six books of the Bible and shows, in concise and thoughtful ways, how every book reflects God’s love for each of us, such as:

In Genesis God fashions me with His hands.

In Esther He Makes me royalty

In Acts God’s Spirit comes to live in me.

In I Peter God gives me victory over suffering.

Each chapter includes a succinct, meaningful reading on the message of that book in the Bible, along with a simple takeaway to help you bring the message to light in your own heart and life.

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            I really enjoyed this book. I was encouraged as I read it, and very impressed by how Ms. Rothschild could take one book of the Bible, narrow its focus down so she could write two pages about how God’s love is portrayed in it, and make it applicable for us without taking it out of context. This book is visually appealing, but also appeals to the heart and soul as she teaches the reader more about how much God loves them.

Though it’s a small book focused on the love of God, 66 Ways God Loves You is also surprisingly rich in doctrine. I wasn’t sure what sort of doctrinal basis this book would have, if it would only focus on God’s love and forget His justice, but I was very impressed by Ms. Rothschild’s ability to balance that out. Inevitably, different doctrinal issues came up in this book, but I found we agreed on most everything, which I found interesting.

One of my favorite (because I can’t narrow it down to one!) chapters was the one from Zephaniah, The Mighty God Sings Over Me with Great Joy. It was such an awesome reminder that not only does God love me, He likes me too! And He delights in me.

            All in all, I really liked this book. It’s definitely a keeper for me, and maybe for you too! Today, courtesy of the publisher, I’m going to be giving away one copy to one of you! Make sure you enter to win this great book.

Click on the link and fill out the options to enter: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/fea9d3732/

About the Author

Biography from Thomas Nelson’s website: Jennifer Rothschild has written 13 books and Bible studies, including the bestsellers, Lessons I Learned in the Dark and Self-Talk, Soul-Talk. She has appeared on Good Morning America, Dr. Phil, Life Today, and a Billy Graham television special and spoken for Women of Faith and Extraordinary Women. She is the founder of the Fresh Grounded Faith conferences and womensministry.net. She lost her sight at age 15 and regularly travels and speaks around the country, sharing her story and all God has done in her life. Jennifer lives with her family in Missouri.

I was provided a copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions expressed are my own.

Child of the River

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Book Review: Child of the River

Author: Irma Joubert

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Back Cover from Book Look Blogger’s website for Child of the River:

A compelling coming of age story with an unlikely and utterly memorable heroine, Child of the River is a timeless tale of heartbreak and triumph set in South Africa at the dawn of apartheid.

Persomi is young, white, and poor, born the middlea child of illiterate sharecroppers on the prosperous Fourie farm in the South African Bushveld. Persomi’s world is extraordinarily small. She has never been to the local village and spends her days absorbed in the rhythms of the natural world around her, escaping the brutality and squalor of her family home through the newspapers and books passed down to her from the main house and through her walks in the nearby mountains.

Persomi’s close relationship with her older brother Gerbrand and her fragile friendship with Boelie Fourie—heir to the Fourie farm and fortune—are her lifeline and her only connection to the outside world. When Gerbrand leaves the farm to fight on the side of the Anglos in WWII and Boelie joins an underground network of Boer nationalists, Persomi’s isolated world is blown wide open. But as her very small world falls apart, bigger dreams become open to her—dreams of an education, a profession, a native country that values justice and equality, and of love. As Persomi navigates the changing world around her—the tragedies of war and the devastating racial strife of her homeland—she finally discovers who she truly is, where she belongs, and why her life—and every life—matters.

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            This book was not what I expected. I definitely thought it would have more focus on World War II, but while that was not the case, I got sucked into this story in ways I didn’t expect.

Child of the River is a break from what I normally read. The story did not have a strong Christian story line. It does mention faith a few times, but reads more like a general market novel. This book is unique and seeks to challenge commonly held views. I can see why Ms. Joubert has had such success in publishing.

I had never read anything set in South Africa, let alone during this particular time period, so I loved being able to learn about that specific geographical and historical era. I’ve read many books set during WWII, but none dealing with what Ms. Joubert addresses. Persomi’s past is tragic, at best. And though the author dealt with the deep issues in Persomi’s family in a tactful way, it was still difficult to read about what her sister went through. Prejudice runs deep in this time period, in many different forms, and Ms. Joubert seeks to turn that on its head as Persomi views the world in a different way than many in her community. I couldn’t say that I agreed with her perspective on everything, but it was still intriguing to read about.

My heart broke for Persomi as she encountered success, then setback, over and over in her family life, social life, and love life. It really seemed like she would never reach that point of happiness, but in the end she did, without cutting any corners or cheating, which I have the highest respect for.

This book is thick, but it swept me away. I couldn’t tear myself away, which resulted in a few late nights, and sleep that this college student couldn’t afford to lose. 😉 Ms. Joubert writes with a talent that springs off the pages into the reader’s mind, and creates sweeping landscapes, raging emotions, and challenging viewpoints. If you’re a lover of history, of learning new things, and of fantastic writing (in the general market sense) then you need to at least think about picking up Child of the River. Now I just need to back track and read her first book published in the U.S., The Girl from the Train.

About the Author

Biography from Goodread’s website: International bestselling author Irma Joubert was a history teacher for 35 years before she began writing. Her stories are known for their deep insight into personal relationships and rich historical detail. She’s the author of eight novels and a regular fixture on bestseller lists in The Netherlands and in her native South Africa. She is the winner of the 2010 ATKV Prize for Romance Novels.

I was provided a copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions expressed are my own.

When Love Arrives

28637702Book Review: When Love Arrives

Author: Johnnie Alexander

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Back Cover from Revell’s website for When Love Arrives:

Dani had planned to spy on Brett–so how did she end up on a date with him?

Dani Prescott can’t believe the lie Brett Somers is trying to sell to the media. During an interview about the plane crash that killed his parents, he blamed Dani’s mother. But the crash killed her as well. Vowing to restore her mother’s reputation, Dani has been following Brett and taking photos, hoping to find something she can use to discredit him. But when she catches his eye instead, she quickly finds herself agreeing to a date. Brett knows this mystery girl is hiding something–but he’s got his own secrets to keep. What will happen when he discovers who she really is?

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            So, I struggled with this book for the first half of the story. The back cover made me think this story was going in a different direction, so I had a hard time figuring out where, exactly, this story was going. I didn’t like either Dani or Brett at the beginning. Neither one is a very nice person. But as the story progressed, I found that I started to like them more, though it wasn’t until the ending that I was on board with the two of them. I really liked the secondary characters and what was going on with them. The change that occurs in both Dani and Brett seemed authentic, so I enjoyed reading that. Overall, it was an ‘ok’ book. Not my favorite, but not a bad book either.

About the Author

Biography from Revell’s website: Johnnie Alexander is the award-winning author of Where Treasure Hides and Where She Belongs. Johnnie is an accomplished essayist and poet whose work has appeared in the Guideposts anthology A Cup of Christmas Cheer. In addition to writing, she enjoys reading, spending time with her grandchildren, and taking road trips. She lives near Memphis, Tennessee. Learn more about Johnnie and her books at: http://johnnie-alexander.com/

I was provided a copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions expressed are my own.

A Lady Unrivaled

LadyUnrivaled_mck.inddBook Review: A Lady Unrivaled

Author: Roseanna M. White

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Back Cover from Bethany House’s website for A Lady Unrivaled:

Her future–and her heart–hang in the balance.

Amid the Unforgettable Cotswolds, the Final Grasp for the Fire Eyes Diamonds Could Threaten Them All

Lady Ella Myerston can always find a reason to smile–even if it’s just in hope that tomorrow will be better than today. All her life everyone has tried to protect her from the realities of the world, but Ella knows very well how the dangerous Fire Eyes diamonds have haunted her brother and their friends, and she won’t wait for peril to strike again. She intends to take action . . . and if that happens to involve an adventurous trip to the Cotswolds, then so much the better.

Lord James Cayton has already broken two hearts, including that of his first wife, who died before he could convince himself to love her. Now he’s determined to live a better life . . . but that proves complicated when old acquaintances pull Cayton into their desperate attempt to seize the jewels. He does his best to remove the intriguing Lady Ella from danger, but the stubborn girl won’t budge. How else can he redeem himself, though, but by saving her–and his daughter–from those intent on destroying them all?

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            I LOVED this last book in the Ladies of the Manor series. Ella always seemed an interesting character, but getting more to know her and her spunk and flare for life was so much fun. She is definitely one of my favorite heroines I’ve read about recently. Her tenacity, courage, and loyalty make her such a great character, yet not without her faults. I didn’t really like Cayton in the other books, but as I got to know him in this one, I couldn’t help but cheer him on. His inability to let go of his sinful past is something that so many struggle with, yet as he learned to accept God’s love for him, he was able to live in freedom. I also really enjoyed how Roseanna continued to have other character’s viewpoints in the book. Seeing some of their struggles really brought a well-rounded dynamic to the story. The climax of the Fire Eyes mystery kept me turning pages, holding my breath at times and then finally at the end letting out that satisfied sigh. No character is as he, or she, seems, and Roseanna always had a surprise waiting in the next few pages. I would highly recommend this whole series, not only because of the premise and how she carries it out, but because of the level of quality throughout all three books. Roseanna does a fantastic job, and not once was I bored while reading, or tempted to pick up some other book.

About the Author

Biography from Bethany House’s website: Roseanna M. White pens her novels beneath her Betsy Ross flag, with her Jane Austen action figure watching over her. When not writing fiction, she’s homeschooling her two children, editing and designing, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna is the author of nine novels, ranging from biblical fiction to American-set romances to her new British series. Roseanna lives with her family in West Virginia. Learn more at www.RoseannaMWhite.com.

I was given a review copy of A Lady Unrivaled from the author. I received no monetary compensation for my review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Honor Redeemed

urlBook Review: Honor Redeemed

Author: Christine Johnson

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Back Cover from Revell Publisher’s website for Honor Redeemed:

Her future–and her heart–hang in the balance.

Two years ago, Prosperity Jones waved farewell to her beloved David as the army sent him to faraway Key West. Now with her parents gone, she has but one prospect for the future: make the dangerous journey from Nantucket to Key West to reunite with David and secure a happier life.

But when Prosperity arrives penniless in the South, she is dismayed to find David has not been eagerly awaiting their reunion. In fact, he is married to someone else. Scrambling to survive and nursing a broken heart, Prosperity gains the friendship–and the affection–of a kind doctor. Could he be the answer to her loneliness? Or will her life be upended by circumstance yet again?

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            Christine Johnson’s second book in the Keys of Promise series focuses on new characters, but adds in some old ones that will be familiar to readers of the first book. I liked this book in some ways, but in others it fell short for me. I was frustrated multiple times by Prosperity. She would jump to conclusions that just didn’t seem logical. Obviously emotions were running high in the book, but it was still annoying for me. The story was interesting, and the side note of mystery with the supplies disappearing from the worksite was intriguing, so I enjoyed that. I also really enjoyed the setting of Key West, and the different spin the author put on the island by focusing on some of the hospital issues. However, along with that, the fever that comes into play at the end of this book seemed very similar in circumstances and results to that of the first book. The characters did have some emotions that seemed very real, but overall the characters didn’t seem overly authentic or unique to me. The whole issue with Oliver and the prejudices involved was intriguing, and the ending of the book was satisfying. Overall, not my favorite book, but I did enjoy some parts of it.

About the Author

Biography from Revell Publisher’s website: Christine Johnson is the author of several books for Steeple Hill and Love Inspired and has been twice named a finalist for Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart® award. When not writing, she loves to hike and explore God’s majestic creation. These days, she and her husband, a Great Lakes ship pilot, split their time between northern Michigan and the Florida Keys.

I was given a review copy of Honor Redeemed from the publisher. I received no monetary compensation for my review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Without Warning

imgresBook Review: Without Warning

Author: Lynette Eason

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Back Cover from Revell Publisher’s website for Without Warning:

Intensity. Skill. Tenacity.

The bodyguards of Elite Guardians Agency have it all.

Katie Singleton, a partner with the Elite Guardians Protection Agency, stumbles upon her next assignment quite by accident. Spotting blue lights at a familiar restaurant, she stops to investigate, only to discover that owner Daniel Matthews has become the target of someone who will go to any lengths to put him out of business.

Daniel might be concerned, but he’s not convinced that a bodyguard–and a female one at that–is necessary. A new attack and his niece’s urgings are enough to make him reconsider. He and Katie must figure out who’s behind the intimidation and threats–before a would-be killer strikes again.

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            I’ve heard a lot of good things about Lynette Eason’s books, but never felt compelled to try one out for myself. However, I’ve been on a murder mystery kick lately (I’ve been reading a lot of Agatha Christie’s novels), so I thought I’d give Without Warning a try. I was so out of the loop, that I didn’t even realize until halfway through the book that I was reading the second book in the series. Oops. It worked out, though, because this book can easily be read as a stand-alone, though I’m sure reading the books in the series in order would enhance the experience.

I must say, my expectations were high. Did I mention I was reading from the Queen of Crime, Agatha Christie? This book blew me away, though (for those of you who’ve read it, there’s a pun for you. Cheesy, I know.). This novel was action-packed, with suspense riding high. I found myself reading it any chance I got, just to try to figure out who-dun-it, and what they would do next! At one point, I was reading in my room and someone knocked on my door, and I had to take a few seconds to keep from grabbing the nearest pillow to use as a defense against the ‘intruder’. I really was gripped by this story!

I liked the idea of a body guard service made up of a group of women, a different take from what’s been done before by most authors (one of the exceptions being Becky Wade’s Her One and Only). The different viewpoints in the story, particularly Riley’s, were enjoyable to read. This book also tackles the issue of PTSD. Lynette treats it realistically, giving Without Warning more depth. The romance in this book was fun too, but wasn’t really the focus. Trust was a real issue in this book, trusting the people around them, and also trusting God, even when He allows things that don’t make sense.

So this book wasn’t quite Agatha Christie, but I did get sucked in by the adventure. I’ll definitely be taking another look at Lynette’s novels, but not when I’m home alone. At night. With creepy night noises. 😉

About the Author

Biography from Revell Publisher’s website: Lynette Eason is the bestselling author of the Women of Justice series, the Deadly Reunions series, and the Hidden Identity series, as well as Always Watching and Without Warning in the Elite Guardians series. She is the winner of an ACFW Carol Award, the Selah Award, and the Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award. She has a master’s degree in education from Converse College and lives in South Carolina. Learn more at www.lynetteeason.com.

I was given a review copy of Without Warning from the publisher. I received no monetary compensation for my review. The opinions expressed are my own.