Redeeming Grace: Ruth’s Story, by Jill Eileen Smith

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

One devoted woman is about to discover the power of love

When famine visits Bethlehem, some hold out hope for rain, while Naomi and her family make a long journey to Moab in search of greener pastures. The harvest there is plentiful, and for a time it appears the Lord is blessing them. But when calamities strike, one after another, Naomi is left alone in a foreign land with only her widowed daughters-in-law for comfort.

Downhearted and destitute, Naomi is determined to return to Bethlehem alone. But her daughter-in-law Ruth refuses to leave her side. Despite the fact that she and Naomi will almost certainly live out their days in widowhood and poverty, Ruth holds out hope for a better future . . . and maybe even a second chance at love.

First Thoughts:

It’s an honor to review any novel by Jill Eileen Smith. I’ve been highly impressed with many of her previous titles and they’ve often helped me look at the featured Bible story with fresh eyes. I’m hoping for the same with her interpretation of Ruth.

My Take:

Once again, Jill Eileen Smith has taken a well-known Bible story and brought it to life. The story of Ruth begins with her future mother-in-law assisting Boaz’s wife in childbirth. It establishes Naomi as a woman who is familiar with Boaz and his family, placing Boaz as her husband’s cousin and creating a brother-in-law as well to act as the relative closer to Naomi than Boaz.

After reading Redeeming Grace I had to review Ruth’s story for a Bible study. Thanks to this novel, I saw the story with new eyes. We don’t know why she was so willing to leave her home and everything that she knew to go with Naomi. Here, Smith has given her a realistic reason, as well as an interesting theory on how and why Naomi’s sons might’ve died. It was refreshing to see Ruth portrayed as a Moabite, as some authors I’ve read have gone out of their way to ignore this aspect of her character. Ruth was a foreigner, although it’s acknowledged that her people were descended from Abraham’s nephew, Lot.

I found Redeeming Grace difficult to put down. As well as being entertaining, it was also thought provoking. For example, why did God let Naomi’s husband and sons die? Was it punishment for moving away from the Kingdom of Judah? The final paragraphs hint, however, of what was to come from Bethlehem and the line of Boaz and Ruth: the Messiah Himself.

Thank you to Revell and the author for my complimentary copy of Redeeming Grace: Ruth’s Story, which I received in exchange for my honest review.

Have you read Redeeming Grace? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.


Publisher: Revell (a division of Baker Publishing)

Publication Date: 14 February 2017

Page Count: 368

Read more on:   Jill Eileen Smith’s Website   Revell’s Website

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The Angels’ Share, by James Markert

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

Some believed he was the second coming of Christ.

William wasn’t so sure.

But when that drifter was buried next to the family distillery, everything changed.

Now that Prohibition has ended, what the townspeople of Twisted Tree, Kentucky, need most is the revival of the Old Sam Bourbon distillery. But William McFee knows it’ll take a miracle to convince his father, Barley, to once more fill his family’s aging house with barrels full of bourbon.

When a drifter recently buried near the distillery begins to draw crowds of pilgrims, the McFees are dubious. Yet miracles seem to come to those who once interacted with the deceased and to those now praying at his grave. As people descend on the town to visit the “Potter’s Field Christ,” William seeks to find the connection between the tragic death of his younger brother and the mysterious drifter.

But as news spreads about the miracles at the potter’s field, the publicity threatens to bring the depth of Barley’s secret past to light and put the entire McFee family in jeopardy.

The Angels’ Share is a story of fathers and sons, of young romance, of revenge and redemption, and of the mystery of miracles. 

First Thoughts:

James Markert is an author I’ve not read before, but I love the sound of the overview. I’ve visited just one distillery in Kentucky, but I’d like to visit more locations connected to this iconic industry. Coincidentally, the one I’ve visited – Jim Beam in Clermont – is the first one the author visited, as he states in his end notes and helped inspire this story.

My Take:

Who was Asher Keating? The first miracle associated with him comes three days after his burial in the town’s potter’s field. His followers – numbering twelve – had camped out in the distillery’s aging house and claimed that he was their savior. William writes a story on the miracle and its publication brings pilgrims to the grave site. It brings its share of detractors also and the lives of the McFees are put in danger by the publicity it brings to the family.

This is a story where the central character is deceased before it starts. It features the homeless, the down on their luck, the mentally ill, the mafia, priests, and members of the Klan. There are scenes of violence and alcohol abuse, and hints of sexual activity. There are elements of racism and bigotry, and there’s a noticeable sectarian divide. The Klan goes after the McFees not only because they make whiskey, but because they’re Catholic. Everything slowly comes to a boil and explodes on a night that changes everything.

But The Angels’ Share also looks at redemption and rebirth. Lives are changed for the better. Things happen that cannot be logically explained, lending a sense of mystery and wonder. The very last line has an impact that can only be experienced by having read the entire book. This is a story that will stay with me for a long time.

Thank you to Thomas Nelson for my complimentary copy of The Angels’ Share, which I received in exchange for my honest review.

Have you read The Angels’ Share? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.


Publisher: Thomas Nelson (a division of HarperCollins Christian)

Publication Date: 17 January 2017

Page Count: 352

Read more on:   James Markert’s Website   Thomas Nelson’s Website

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Books-a-million

An Uncommon Courtship, by Kristi Ann Hunter

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

Lord Trent Hawthorne couldn’t be happier he is not the duke in the family. Free to manage his small estate and take his time discovering the life he wants to lead, he has grand plans of someday wooing and falling in love with the woman of his choice. When he finds himself honor bound to marry a woman he barely knows, his dream of a loving marriage like his parents’ seems lost forever.

Life for Lady Adelaide Bell was easier when she hid in her older sister’s shadow–which worked until her sister got married. But even with her socially ambitious mother’s focus entirely on her, the last thing she expected was a marriage of convenience before she’s been introduced to society.

With nothing going as expected, can Trent and Adelaide’s marriage of obligation survive their own missteps and the pressures of London society to grow into a true meeting of hearts and minds?

First Thoughts:

This is the third novel in the Hawthorne House series, focusing on younger brother Trent.

My Take:

In Kristi Ann Hunter’s latest novel we have the tale of two people getting to know each other AFTER getting married and trying to reconcile their dreams with reality. Trent and Adelaide’s marriage isn’t an arranged one, but is the result of an embarrassing situation. Trent doesn’t think he’s ready for marriage and Adelaide soon realizes how little she knows about running a home.

There are two connected themes in An Uncommon Courtship. The first is that life is unpredictable. The second is that God’s plans are not our plans. The awkwardness of the situation shines through quickly and I was both sympathetic and annoyed with the characters for some of their actions. I felt sorry for Adelaide, given her mother’s treatment of her, and thought she was better off in this difficult marriage. Trent’s family are lovely, even second sister Georgina who was impossible to like at the start of this series. Trent seeks advice from other men, and there’s a good emphasis on the Biblical perspective of marriage. There is a lot of tactful discussion about relations between a man and a woman, and some physical moments described, but the couple concerned is married and there’s nothing to make a reader squirm.

I finished this book hoping there would be one more book in the series. After all, oldest sibling Griffith has yet to make a match. It’s great, therefore, to discover that there will be a fourth title. An Inconvenient Beauty will be released later this year.

Thank you to Bethany House for my complimentary electronic copy of An Uncommon Courtship, which I received in exchange for my honest review.

Have you read An Uncommon Courtship? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.


Author Q and A

Publisher: Bethany House (a division of Baker Publishing)

Publication Date: 03 January 2017

Page Count: 352

Read more on:   Kristi Ann Hunter’s Website   Bethany House’s Website

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Books-a-million