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two and a half pages of characters at the beginning of Isaiah’s Daughter – a mix of names mentioned in the Bible and/or historical documents and fictional characters – and I referred to it often.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

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The Lacemaker, by Laura Frantz

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

It is the eve of a new age of freedom in the colonies.
But can a proper English lady dare hope for her own independence?

Lady Elisabeth “Liberty” Lawson has nearly everything a lady of her position could want. Daughter of the British lieutenant governor of the Virginia Colony and a darling of fine society in a rugged land, she is anticipating an advantageous marriage. That her betrothed is a rake and love is lacking is of little consequence–or so she tells herself.

Though her own life seems in order, colonial Williamsburg is a powder keg on the verge of exploding, and her fiancé’s cousin Noble Rynallt carries the flame of revolution in his heart. Those with connections to the British nobility are suspected as spies, and Liberty soon finds herself left with a terrible choice. Will she stay true to her English roots? Or side with Noble and the radical revolutionaries?

First Thoughts:

I’ve enjoyed the previous historical novels by Laura Frantz that I’ve read. Williamsburg is on my Bucket List of places to visit.

My Take:

It’s 1775 and, despite the unrest in the colonies, Elisabeth Lawson has almost everything she could want. Now she waits for her rebel-leaning mother to return from England in time for her wedding. But overnight, her life changes when the British governor of Virginia evacuates Williamsburg, along with her father and other loyalists and she’s left behind. Now, she’s reliant on the kindness of the patriots who’ve taken over the town, including Noble Rynallt who proves to be a better man than his cousin.

The Lacemaker is a story of rags to riches in reverse. There’s tension and romance, happiness and heartbreak. There are scenes of gaiety at loyalist balls, and scenes of horror aboard the British prison ships. You’ll definitely form an opinion on at least a couple of characters: I know I did with regard to Elisabeth’s father and maid! There are cameos by some of the Founding Fathers, and those who don’t appear at least get a mention with more than a passing familiarity. Above all, this is a tale of two people of faith and prayer coming together in an uncertain period of American history.

This was a novel I really enjoyed reading. In fact, I’d have loved this to be a series so I could watch these two grow as the Revolution progressed. What might have happened to Elisabeth and Noble, and those they knew, once Independence was declared? Instead, I must be content with this snapshot in time.

Thank you to Revell Books for my complimentary copy of The Lacemaker, which I received for my honest review.

Have you read The Lacemaker? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.

Excerpt

Publisher: Revell (a division of Baker Publishing)

Publication Date: 02 January 2018

Page Count: 416

Read more on:   Revell’s Website   Laura Frantz’s Website   Colonial Williamsburg

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

The Ladies of Ivy Cottage, by Julie Klassen

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

Return to Ivy Hill as friendships deepen, romances blossom, and mysteries unfold . . .

A gentlewoman in reduced circumstances, Miss Rachel Ashford lives as a guest in Ivy Cottage. With her meager funds rapidly depleting, she is determined to earn her own livelihood . . . somehow. Her friend Jane Bell and the other village women encourage her to open a circulating library with the many books she’s inherited from her father. As villagers donate additional books and Rachel begins sorting through the volumes, she discovers mysteries hidden among them. A man who once broke her heart helps her search for clues, but both find more than they bargained for.

Rachel’s hostess, Mercy Grove, has given up thoughts of suitors and finds fulfillment in managing her girls school. So when several men take an interest in Ivy Cottage, she assumes pretty Miss Ashford is the cause. Exactly what–or whom–has captured each man’s attention? The truth may surprise them all.

First Thoughts:

I loved Julie Klassen’s previous book, The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill, so I’m delighted to have the opportunity to read and review The Ladies of Ivy Cottage.

My Take:

Julie Klassen’s debut series continues with a book focusing on two spinsters who run a small girls’ school and their friend. These women, first introduced in The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill, are considered past their prime when it comes to marriage eligibility but each has a reason for their singleness. But could their romantic fortunes be changing?

The Ladies of Ivy Cottage is the second book of the Tales from Ivy Hill series, and I definitely recommend reading the book one before starting it. Ivy Cottage starts almost immediately after the culmination of events in previous book, and there are plenty of references to these events. Almost all the characters featured were introduced previously and this novel focuses on their efforts to break free from their pasts. There are also poignant looks at the loss of family members and the process of getting old.

Of course, my British upbringing means, when it comes to British-based fiction, I often notice that which most readers would not. I think Klassen possibly muddled two historical Wiltshire locations. In one chapter she describes a visit to a place called Old Sarum, “or ‘Stonehenge’ as some call it. Old Sarum is the remains of a medieval settlement, but the narrative clearly describes Stonehenge which is known for its prehistoric stone circle.

I’m disappointed that it appears the Ivy Hill series will end after the next book. Since it’s been compared to The Thrush Green series by Miss Read and the Mitford series by Jan Karon (both of which contain multiple novels), I had expected more than just three books. Regardless, I am looking forward to The Bride of Ivy Green which will be released in December 2018.

Thank you to Bethany House for my complimentary copy of The Ladies of Ivy Cottage, which I received for my honest review.

Have you read The Ladies of Ivy Cottage? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.

Excerpt

Author Q and A

Publisher: Bethany House (a division of Baker Publishing)

Publication Date: 05 December 2017

Page Count: 448

Read more on:   Bethany House’s Website   Julie Klassen’s Website   Tales From Ivy Hill

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