A Light on the Hill, by Connilyn Cossette

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

Though Israel has found relative peace, Moriyah has yet to find her own. Attempting to avoid the scorn of her community, she’s spent the last seven years hiding behind the veil she wears. Underneath her covering, her face is branded with the mark of the Canaanite gods, a shameful reminder of her past captivity in Jericho and an assurance that no man will ever want to marry her. 

When her father finds a widower who needs a mother for his two sons, her hopes rise. But when their introduction goes horribly wrong, Moriyah is forced to flee for her life. Seeking safety at one of the newly established Levitical cities of refuge, she is wildly unprepared for the dangers she will face and the enemies–and unexpected allies–she will encounter on her way.

First Thoughts:

This is a new series by Connilyn Cossette, but it continues the story of a character introduced in Cossette’s previous novel, Wings of the Wind. Continue reading

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A Passionate Hope, by Jill Eileen Smith

Publisher’s Overview:

Can one woman’s prayers change the world?

Hannah and her husband, Elkanah, share a deep and abiding love for each other, for their God, and for His tabernacle at Shiloh. Greatly disturbed by the corruption of the priests, they long for restoration and pray for a deliverer. But nothing changes as the years pass. Years that also reveal Hannah to be barren.

Pressured by his family to take another wife, Elkanah marries Peninnah, who quickly begins to bear children. Disgraced and taunted by her husband’s new wife, Hannah turns again to prayers that seem doomed to go unanswered. Do her devotion and kindness in the face of Peninnah’s cruelty count for nothing? Will God remain silent and indifferent to her pleas?

Travel back to the dusty streets of Shiloh with an expert guide as Jill Eileen Smith brings to life a beloved story of hope, patience, and deliverance that shows that even the most broken of relationships can be restored.

First Thoughts:

I’ve enjoyed previous Biblical fiction novels by Jill Eileen Smith. I’m part of the launch team for this new release.

My Take:

When reviewing a Biblically-based novel, I find it useful to review what I know about the main character(s). I knew that Hannah was the mother of Samuel, who anointed both Saul and David. I knew she’d been barren for many years, and I knew that she made a vow to God that, if He gave her a child, she would surrender that child back to Him. She also had a vicious sister-wife!

A Passionate Hope had me rethink at least one of my presumptions. Peninnah is essentially the villainess of Hannah’s story, but Jill Eileen Smith made me feel sympathy for her. She was the second wife of a man she loved, and she gave him plenty of children, but Elkanah was never really able to give her what she wanted. In Smith’s account, Peninnah’s deceased father hadn’t been a great father or husband and her mother consistently gave her bad advice. As for Hannah, I can’t imagine what it must’ve felt like to know your husband was sleeping with another woman because she could give him sons when you couldn’t. And how much worse it must’ve been for the wives of the sons of Eli, the priests who couldn’t have cared less about carrying out their duties the way God instructed. Instead of focusing on the responsibilities they’d been given they reveled in the power that resulted from those responsibilities.

Don’t expect a detailed look of the duties of the Levites, the loss of the Ark of the Covenant in battle, or of Samuel as an adult. We get Elkanah’s perspective, but only as it pertains to Hannah and Peninnah. This is a book about the mother of a great Bible figure, in a series about pivotal female figures of the Old Testament. Look at it in that light and I’m sure you’ll agree that this is a fascinating look a woman who struggled to understand God but kept her faith in Him nevertheless.

Thank you to Revell and Jill Eileen Smith for my complimentary copy of A Passionate Hope, which I received for my honest review.

Do you plan to read A Passionate Hope? Let me know your thoughts.

Excerpt

Publisher: Revell (a division of Baker Publishing)

Publication Date: 06 February 2018

Page Count: 368

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

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Books-a-million   Christianbook.com

Isaiah’s Daughter, by Mesu Andrews

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

In this epic Biblical narrative, ideal for fans of The Bible miniseries, a young woman taken into the prophet Isaiah’s household rises to capture the heart of the future king. 

Isaiah adopts Ishma, giving her a new name–Zibah, delight of the Lord–thereby ensuring her royal pedigree. Ishma came to the prophet’s home, devastated after watching her family destroyed and living as a captive. But as the years pass, Zibah’s lively spirit wins Prince Hezekiah’s favor, a boy determined to rebuild the kingdom his father has nearly destroyed. But loving this man will awake in her all the fears and pain of her past and she must turn to the only One who can give life, calm her fears, and deliver a nation. 

First Thoughts:

I read Isaiah’s Daughter as part of an advance review team, but I’m always interested in reading Biblical fiction. I’ve read novels by Mesu Andrews before. I usually not only enjoy them, but find myself learning something new. I didn’t know much about Isaiah or his family, so I was hoping to again learn something. If anything, I also hoped to be able to spell Isaiah correctly by the end of this review!

My Take:

Let’s hear it for character lists at the start of novels! They are a blessed addition to any narrative containing lots of characters. There are two and a half pages of characters at the beginning of Isaiah’s Daughter – a mix of names mentioned in the Bible and/or historical documents and fictional characters – and I referred to it often. There’s also a nifty map of Israel and Judah, and the surrounding territories. For this is set after the ten tribes of Israel have split away from Judah, leaving a much diminished Promised Land. The Assyrian Empire is expanding at a rapid rate, and Israel is now little more than a vassal state. God’s ways are being forgotten and the people now worship pagan idols.

This is the situation in the opening pages of Isaiah’s Daughter. Ishma and her friend Yaira are among a group of captives being force marched from Bethlehem to Samaria, victims of an attack launched for political reasons. After the reader is introduced to these two characters, the action then moves to Jerusalem and the description of a human sacrifice to Moloch. This is a scene that made me feel sick, but my own research showed that this particular atrocity probably did take place. It’s to Mesu Andrews’ credit that she was able to write it in such a way that shows how vile these sacrifices were and how witnesses reacted, yet do it tastefully.

Amid the palace intrigues and wars between kingdoms is a romance between Ishma (now Zibah) and Prince Hezekiah. They meet as children, two souls who’ve seen too much already in their young lives, and connect through their hurts. Although he is the son of a king and she is an orphan they communicate as equals, and I enjoyed their back and forth discussions, but it’s apparent that the past haunts both of them even as they work to build a future for themselves and their country. Throw in a prophet with an opinion, and it’s difficult for both to put their trust wholly in the Lord.

Isaiah’s Daughter is called a Novel of Prophets and Kings, which implies it’s the beginning of a new series. Who knows where the series goes from this, but Mesu Andrews has posted on her blog that she’s writing about Daniel. Since Daniel is partially known for his interactions with King Nebuchadnezzar, I can only presume that this is another book in the series.

Thank you to Mesu Andrews and Waterbrook Press for my complimentary copy of Isaiah’s Daughter, which I received for my honest review.

Read other reviews here

Do you plan to read Isaiah’s Daughter? Let me know your thoughts.

Excerpt

Publisher: Waterbrook Press (Imprint of Penguin Random House)

Publication Date: 16 January 2018

Page Count: 400

Read more on:   Waterbrook’s Website   Mesu Andrew’s Website   Biblical King’s Seal Discovered in Dump Site

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Books-a-million   Christianbook.com