Beloved, by Robin Lee Hatcher

book coverThis is being posted today as part of a Litfuse blog tour. Take a look to see what others are saying about Beloved. While you’re there, don’t forget to enter the contest to win an iPad Mini. I’m also offering a copy of the book at the end of this review.

A most unwelcome guest surprises Diana at her engagement party—the husband she thought was dead!

Diana Brennan came west on the orphan train and was given a home with a loving couple who cherished and spoiled her. At 17, she fell hard for Tyson Applegate, the son of a wealthy mine owner. After a whirlwind courtship and marriage, Tyson took o for adventures around the world, including fighting with the Rough Riders in Cuba. Receiving no word of him in years, Diana is ready to move past the old pain and marry again, just as soon as Tyson is declared legally dead.

But when Tyson returns, supposedly a changed man, he wants to reunite with his wife and run for the senate. While Diana suspects the election is his real reason for wanting her by his side, she agrees to maintain his home and to campaign with him, but when it is over, win or lose, she wants her freedom.

He agrees with one condition—she must give him a chance to change her mind about him.

Beloved is the final book of the Where the Heart Lives trilogy but, thankfully, you don’t need to be familiar with the first two books, Belonging and Betrayal. A short prologue informs the reader about the events regarding the orphan train, and the plots of the other books have no bearing on the plot here. It takes place in Boise, Idaho during the election season of 1900. There are several mentions of the presidential election, but it isn’t necessary to have a political history degree to understand what’s said. There are also multiple flashbacks that chart the relationship between Diana and Tyson and also Tyson’s exploits while they were apart.

This is a novel where conflict, misunderstandings and pride all have a part to play. There’s a bad guy who becomes a good guy, and a presumed good guy who isn’t so nice after all. At times, Diana is skeptical of the men in her life, while at others she is painfully naïve. The best aspect of the book, in my view, is the plotline regarding the orphan, Ned. Diana is able to relate to the lad due to her own experiences as a child and, unwilling to see him remain on the street, takes him – and his dog – in. As a result, the house soon becomes a home.

Only one loose end doesn’t appear to be tied up by the end of the book, and that’s the ultimate fate of the bad guy. Some readers might not mind, but I’m someone who has to know details like that. The two page epilogue neatly wraps up the series, with brief mentions of Diana’s siblings. For these three orphans there is a happy ending.

Thank you to Lifuse and Zondervan for my free copy of Beloved, which I received in exchange for an honest review.

Read the first two chapters of Beloved

Publisher: Zondervan

Publication Date: 24 September 2013

Page Count: 304

Read more on:   Robin Lee Hatcher’s Website   Zondervan’s Website

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Christianbook.com

Want to win a copy of Beloved?

Rules

  1. This is only open to residents of the lower 48 states of the USA due to mailing costs.
  2. Book will be mailed via USPS media mail with delivery confirmation.
  3. Your full name and mailing address will only be used to mail your prize. After I receive confirmation of delivery that information will be deleted. It will never be given or sold to a third party.
  4. You must be 18 or older to enter.
  5. This contest runs from Saturday, 09 November, 2013 until 11:59 EDT on Thursday, 21 November, 2013. Entries submitted after this date will not be accepted. The winner will be announced via Twitter and Facebook.
  6. Comments left on this post are not considered entries and will not increase your chances of winning.

Enter Today – 10/28 – 11/15!beloved robin lee hatcher

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Return to Me, by Lynn Austin (with contest!)

book coverThis is posted today as part of a book tour. Be sure to check out what others are saying about this book, and don’t forget to enter BOTH contests at the end of the review!

After decades of exile, the prophesies are coming true–King Cyrus has declared the Jews may return to Jerusalem. Iddo, a priest, is sure this is a sign of God’s renewed favor. For too long they’ve remained in Babylon, and many, including Iddo’s sons, are losing the faith that sets them apart. And so only a few choose to leave everything to return–return to their home and their God. 

Nothing about their journey to the Promised Land is easy. As hardships mount, even the faithful, like Iddo’s beloved wife, Dinah, question the sacrifice of following God’s leading. Zechariah, Iddo’s oldest grandson, feels torn between his grandfather’s ancient beliefs and the family they left behind. But one life-changing encounter with the Holy One gives him insight that will change Zechariah–and history–forever. 

At the start of a speech he recently gave to the United Nations, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reminded us that Persia (now Iran) was once a friend to the Jewish people. “Some 2,500 years ago the great Persian king Cyrus ended the Babylonian exile of the Jewish people. He issued a famous edict in which he proclaimed the right of the Jews to return to the land of Israel and rebuild the Jewish temple in Jerusalem.” This excellent new novel by Lynn Austin is the story of the first group of exiles to make that return, as originally told in the books of Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai and Zechariah.

Return to Me starts on the night the Babylonian empire fell to the Persians. The prophet Daniel is summoned to the royal court by the last Babylonian king to interpret the writing on the wall. The focus then moves to Iddo and his grandson, Zechariah, and Daniel is only seen once more when the Jewish exiles discover they are free to return to Jerusalem. There then follows a time when the community members must decide whether or not to make the long trip. Many were born in Babylon and have comfortable lives. Some have taken up Babylonian cultural practices and begun worshipping the Babylonian gods. They believe God has forsaken them. Why should they give up their familiar lives for something that may or may not exist? Young Zechariah is torn: his grandparents will be making their journey, but his parents plan to stay in Babylon. Eventually, he commits to making the trip and observes the first efforts to rebuild the temple. He’ll also witness the hardships experienced by the remnant, the violence carried out by enemies of the Jews, and the drought God imposes on them when their rebuilding efforts cease. All the while, he’ll wrestle with the words that appear in his thoughts, words he’s sure come from scripture, if only he could find them in the scrolls.

I’m not well-versed in this area of the Old Testament so I did read the relevant passages before reviewing this book. In the end notes, Austin includes a list of verses she used as references while writing. Since this is fiction, she has fleshed out the lives of those included in the Biblical text and created additional events but, to this untrained eye, she does appear to hold true to Biblical accounts. Return to Me is written from three perspectives: Iddo and Zechariah who are both in the Bible, and Yael who is of Austin’s creation. Left motherless at a young age, Yael has adopted the Babylonian custom of consulting astrological charts to predict the future. But the charts aren’t always accurate, leaving the young woman confused. It is through these sets of eyes that we witness the return from exile, the rebirth of the holy city, and the rebuilding of the temple that one day would play an important part in the ministry of the foretold Messiah.

Return to Me is the first in a new series by Lynn Austin called The Restoration Chronicles. Each of the three books is apparently designed to stand alone. Book two will be called Keepers of the Covenant.

Thank you to Bethany House and Litfuse for my free review copy of Return to Me, which I received in exchange for an honest review.

Read the beginning of Return to Me

Author Q & A

Publisher: Bethany House (a division of Baker Publishing)

Publication Date: 01 October 2013

Page Count: 464

Read more on:   Lynn Austin’s Website   Bethany House’s Website

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Christianbook.com

Win a copy of Return to Me!

Rules

  1. This is only open to residents of the lower 48 states of the USA due to mailing costs.
  2. Book will be mailed via USPS media mail with delivery confirmation.
  3. Your full name and mailing address will only be used to mail your prize. After I receive confirmation of delivery that information will be deleted. It will never be given or sold to a third party.
  4. You must be 18 or older to enter.
  5. This contest runs from Friday, 18 October, 2013 until 11:59 EDT on Thursday, 31 October, 2013. Entries submitted after this date will not be accepted. The winner will be announced via Twitter and Facebook.
  6. Comments left on this post are not considered entries and will not increase your chances of winning.

Enter Today | 10/3 – 10/22!

Return To Me Lynn Austin

A Christmas Gift for Rose, by Tricia Goyer (With international giveaway!)

book coverRose turned her back on the man she loves after he assisted the Englisch during World War II—only to discover she’s an Englischer herself.

Born in the midst of the hardships of The Great Depression, Rose grew up in Berlin, Ohio, in the arms of a loving Amish family. But she is overwhelmed by self-doubt when she learns that she was born Englisch and abandoned when her family moved West in search of work.

Was she meant to be Amish or would she have been better off growing up with her own kind—Englischers? When the man she loves leaves her behind, Rose is certain he left for good. Yet Rose discovers sometimes our greatest gifts are the ones we fear.

It feels weird to be reading Christmas fiction in September, but the 2013 Christmas book season has already begun. I don’t read (or review) many of these seasonal titles, but I’ve reviewed two other Tricia Goyer titles this year, and was given the opportunity to read and review this one as well. A Christmas Gift for Rose is technically a novella. It also combines the two themes Goyer often includes in her books: World War II, and the Amish. I’m not sure I’ve seen this scenario before, but it does highlight some of the issues Amish communities faced during the war. The concept of abandoned children during The Great Depression is one I’d come across before, notably in Ann Gabhart’s Angel Sister, which makes me wonder how common such acts of desperation were.

Rose is a difficult character to work out. She’s often contradictory in her actions. She pushes Jonathan away and then gets annoyed when he doesn’t come to visit. She welcomes his advances and allows him to hope and then decides that they can’t be together. I felt sorry for Jonathan, who wants nothing more than to marry her and live in their Amish community for the rest of their lives. She has Englisch neighbors, but when Rose learns of her birth family her biggest concern is that she was born Englisch. But who knows how we would act if we were in her shoes?

This is a lovely little story that can be read in an afternoon. Curl up with a steaming mug of cocoa, on a day when the weather is bad, and lose yourself in 1940s Ohio. Just have a box of Kleenex nearby, because the ending is beautiful.

Thank you to Litfuse, Zondervan, and Tricia Goyer for my free review copy of A Christmas Gift for Rose, which I received in exchange for an honest review.

Read the first two chapters of A Christmas Gift for Rose

Publisher: Zondervan

Publication Date: 24 September 2013

Page Count: 192

Read more on:   Tricia Goyer’s Website   Zondervan’s Website

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Christianbook.com

Want to win my copy of A Christmas Gift for Rose?

The necessary stuff aka ‘the fine print’

  1. This contest is open to anyone in any country with a valid mailing address.
  2. Book will be mailed via USPS media mail with delivery confirmation if the winner is from the USA. Otherwise, the cheapest air mail method will be used but without the tracking.
  3. Your full name and mailing address will only be used to mail your prize. After I receive confirmation of delivery that information will be deleted. It will never be given or sold to a third party.
  4. You must be 18 or older to enter.
  5. This contest runs from Monday, 30 September, 2013 until 11:59 EDT on Sunday, 27 October, 2013. Entries submitted after this date will not be accepted. The winner will be announced via Twitter and Facebook.
  6. Comments left on this post are not considered entries and will not increase your chances of winning.