Beneath a Prairie Moon, by Kim Vogel Sawyer

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

Abigail Brantley grew up in affluence and knows exactly how to behave in high society. But when she is cast from the social registers due to her father’s illegal dealings, she finds herself forced into a role she never imagined: tutoring rough Kansas ranchers in the subjects of manners and morals so they can “marry up” with their mail-order brides. Mack Cleveland, whose father was swindled by a mail-order bride, wants no part of the scheme to bring Eastern women to Spiveyville, Kansas, and he’s put off by the snooty airs and fastidious behavior of the “little city gal” in their midst. But as time goes by, his heart goes out to the teacher who tries so diligently to smooth the rough edges from the down-to-earth men. How can he teach her that perfection won’t bring happiness?

First Thoughts:

I’ve generally enjoyed the historical novels of Kim Vogel Sawyer that I’ve read. Here, I had to wonder: what could a mail order bride reject and her employer possibly hope to achieve? Continue reading

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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

Many Sparrows, by Lori Benton

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

Either she and her children would emerge from that wilderness together, or none of them would…

In 1774, the Ohio-Kentucky frontier pulses with rising tension and brutal conflicts as Colonists push westward and encroach upon Native American territories. The young Inglesby family is making the perilous journey west when an accident sends Philip back to Redstone Fort for help, forcing him to leave his pregnant wife Clare and their four-year old son Jacob on a remote mountain trail.

When Philip does not return and Jacob disappears from the wagon under the cover of darkness, Clare awakens the next morning to find herself utterly alone, in labor and wondering how she can to recover her son…especially when her second child is moments away from being born.

Clare will face the greatest fight of her life, as she struggles to reclaim her son from the Shawnee Indians now holding him captive. But with the battle lines sharply drawn, Jacob’s life might not be the only one at stake. When frontiersman Jeremiah Ring comes to her aid, can the stranger convince Clare that recovering her son will require the very thing her anguished heart is unwilling to do—be still, wait and let God fight this battle for them?

First Thoughts:

This is the first time I’ve read a novel by Lori Benton. I’m not sure what to expect, although I’ve seen positive reviews of her previous books.

My Take:

Many Sparrows starts in the immediate aftermath of the Yellow Creek Massacre which took place on the banks of the upper Ohio River. A quick bit of research told me that this was a precursor to Lord Dunmore’s War, which I’d heard of but never really knew much about. Shame on me, for these events took place in one of my favorite parts of this country. In fact, I’d not heard of Redstone Fort, once located in southwestern Pennsylvania, before picking up this book.

In alternating points of view, we get the stories of Clare and Jeremiah’s pasts. We get to meet Philip Inglesby before his untimely death, and his attitudes and behavior provoke sympathy for Clare. A third voice is introduced in the second half of the book, with the introduction of Clare’s uncle. Alphus Litchfield will fight on the side of the white men at the pivotal Battle of Point Pleasant. It is through his perspective that the reader learns of the events happening in other parts of the country that will lead to revolution.

Clare is a mother on a mission. With her husband gone forever, she’s determined to salvage the rest of her family. Her faith is shattered: how can she believe in a God who has caused such pain? She finds surprising common ground with an Indian woman who has also experienced loss, a connection that will prove fruitful if she’s willing to trust and wait.

Many Sparrows is a fascinating look at frontier life in the run up to the American Revolution. It shows how relationships and communities can grow and then be torn apart by misunderstanding and anger. There are no clearly defined enemies, except in the historic battle, and there are many Indians and whites in it who try to bridge the divide between their people to stop the fighting and killing. This is a novel that truly tugged at my heartstrings and I actually think my life is better for having read it.

Thank you to Waterbrook Press and Litfuse Publicity for my complimentary copy of Many Sparrows, which I received in exchange for my honest review.

This review is part of a Litfuse Publicity Book Tour

Have you read Many Sparrows? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.

Excerpt

Publisher: Waterbrook Press

Publication Date: 29 August 2017

Page Count: 400

Read more on:   Lori Benton’s Website   Waterbrook’s Website

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