Tag Archives: Biblical fiction

Top 10 Tuesday — Best of 2018, Part 2

10 Jul

A couple of months ago, I took advantage of a TTT Freebie week to post the best books I had read so far this year. (Check out that list HERE.) But that’s okay, because I have another 10 novels to add to the list. 2018 has been a great reading year! The books on my list vary in genre and include new-to-me authors as well as time-tested favorites. What about you? What are some your favs from this year?

Head over to That Artsy Reader Girl to discover other bloggers’ favorite books.

 

Top 10 Favorite Books of 2018, Part 2!

 

The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer

Just Let Go by Courtney Walsh

Land of Silence by Tessa Afshar

The Love Letter by Rachel Hauck

The Masterpiece by Francine Rivers

A Rebel Heart by Beth White

A Refuge Assured by Jocelyn Green

Sons of Blackbird Mountain by Joanne Bischof

A Vast And Gracious Tide by Lisa Carter

Where Hope Begins by Catherine West

What are some favorite books you have read this year?

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Audiobook Review: Land of Silence

14 Jun

Before Christ called her daughter . . .

Before she stole healing by touching the hem of his garment . . .

Elianna is a young girl crushed by guilt. After her only brother is killed while in her care, Elianna tries to earn forgiveness by working for her father’s textile trade and caring for her family. When another tragedy places Elianna in sole charge of the business, her talent for design brings enormous success, but never the absolution she longs for. As her world unravels, she breaks off her betrothal to the only man she will ever love. Then illness strikes, isolating Elianna from everyone, stripping everything she has left.

No physician can cure her. No end is in sight. Until she hears whispers of a man whose mere touch can heal. After so many years of suffering and disappointment, is it possible that one man could redeem the wounds of body . . . and soul?

 

Tessa Afshar is an award-winning author of historical and biblical fiction. Her novel Land of Silence was voted by Library Journal as one of top five Christian fiction titles of 2016 and won the INSPY Award for General Fiction. Harvest of Gold won the prestigious 2014 Christy Award in the Historical Romance category. Her book Harvest of Rubies was a finalist for the 2013 ECPA Book Award in the fiction category. In 2011, after publishing her first novel, Pearl in the Sand, Tessa was named New Author of the Year in the FamilyFiction-sponsored Reader’s Choice Awards. Tessa lived in the Middle East for the first fourteen years of her life. She then moved to England, where she survived boarding school for girls and fell in love with Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte, before moving to the United States. She holds an MDiv from Yale Divinity School, where she served as co-chair of the Evangelical Fellowship. But that has not cured her from being exceptionally fond of chocolate. Contact Tessa at tessaafshar.com or on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorTessaAfshar/.

 

My Impressions:

I was looking for something a bit different for my morning walks when I came across the audiobook Land of Silence by Tessa Afshar. I had heard a lot of good things about this book and Afshar has never disappointed, so I decided to travel to Judea during the time of Christ while getting some exercise. I am very glad I did! This one provided a wonderful listening experience. If you are looking for Biblical fiction that will keep you engaged while making you think, then I highly recommend Land of Silence.

The novel is an interpretation of the life of the woman with the issue of blood who reached out to touch Jesus’ garment. Elianna’s story begins with the tragic death of her young brother. From there Elianna struggles with guilt and feelings of unworthiness. Her life is filled with more tragic events, some that are out of her control and some that are of her own choice. But regardless of the causes, the circumstances impact her life and her relationships. The novel is written in Elianna’s first person voice, giving the reader insights into the reasons for her actions. There were some times I wanted to shake her, LOL! How many times did she resist grace and choose her own limited strength? Sounds a bit like my own life. That’s what makes Elianna a character that readers can relate to.

Land of Silence is well-researched and richly detailed. The manners, customs, laws, and traditions of Judea and the Roman rulers are naturally woven throughout the novel giving the reader a glimpse into the lives of the characters. Secondary characters are well-drawn and add depth to the story. Inclusion of historical characters in the fictional framework gives the novel an authentic feel. While the novel is a fictionalized account, the what-ifs presented feel credible. In Elianna’s quest for healing, she endures a number of medical procedures that leave her worse off physically, emotionally, and financially. I found it interesting that she was willing to seek out these so-called physicians yet was reluctant to go to Jesus. It reminded me that many, including myself, will try just about anything to find relief from the trials of the world, but use God as a last resort.

I am glad I chose the audio version of Land of Silence. The narrator did a great job of capturing Elianna’s personality. I felt like I was listening to a real person’s life story. This was especially effective when Elianna finally meets Jesus. The depth of gratitude and awe brought tears to my eyes.

Land of Silence was a great listening experience. This book is a highly recommended read.

Highly Recommended.

Great for Book Clubs.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

(I purchased the audiobook from Audible. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

 

Top 10 Tuesday — Forget DNF, These Books Are HNS (Have Not Started)!

5 Jun

This week Top 10 Tuesday is exploring books that readers marked DNF (did not finish) too quickly. I don’t have a list of those books, since I almost always finish a book I have started. My problem is the backlog of books I haven’t started  . . . yet! Yes, I have all intentions of starting and finishing the books on my list. I just need strength to resist all the shiny new books coming out. Yeah, that’s going to happen. 😉 Because I have hundreds of books in my TBR pile, I thought to spotlight one genre — Biblical fiction. Help me out here! Which book should I start first?

Head over to That Artsy Reader Girl to discover the books other bloggers DNF.

 

Top Biblical Fiction I Have Not Started

Counted with The Stars by Connilyn Cossette

Esther: A Royal Beauty by Angela Hunt

Isaiah’s Daughter by Mesu Andrews

Love in A Broken Vessel by Mesu Andrews

Magdalene by Angela Hunt

Martha by Diana Wallis Taylor

Rebekah by Jill Eileen Smith

Reign by Ginger Garrett

Stones of My Accusers by Tracy Groot

 

Do you ever not finish a book?

 

 

 

Top 10 Tuesday — Favorites of 2018 (So Far)

17 Apr

This week That Artsy Reader Girl of Top 10 Tuesday is letting bloggers have a Freebie. After much thought, I finally settled on sharing the Best Books I’ve Read So Far This Year. The books on this list all were given a Highly Recommended rating by me. Covering a variety of genres, these books offer realistic and endearing characters, are beautifully written, and share messages of hope, healing, and grace. I loved them, and I think you will too. If you have read any of them, let me know if you agree with my assessment.

 

 

 

 Best Books I’ve Read in 2018 (So Far)

The House on Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright

Hurricane Season by Lauren K. Denton

Lead Me Home by Amy K. Sorrells

The Melody of The Soul by Liz Tolsma

Missing Isaac by Valerie Fraser Luesse

On This Foundation by Lynn Austin 

A Passionate Hope by Jill Eileen Smith

The Saturday Night Supper Club by Carla Laureano

A Song of Home by Susie Finkbeiner

Steal Away Home by Billy Coffey

What book is your favorite this year?

Top 10 Tuesday — To Re-Read Or Not To Re-Read

10 Apr

In February TTT explored books that can be re-read over and over. Because I hardly ever re-read anymore (too many books, too little time and all), I listed books that deserve a re-read. Well here we are with a challenge to name books that we loved but will not re-read — my list could go on for pages! So I have again limited myself to 10 stellar books that not only deserve a first read, but a re-read over and over again. If you haven’t read any on the list at all, be sure to check them out. They are great. And don’t forget to head over to That Artsy Reader Girl to find out more books that bloggers love.

 

Top 10 Books That Won’t Be Re-Read by Me, But Should Be Read by You!

 


Bad Ground
by Dale Cramer

Poignant and thought provoking, this is a down-to-earth, sometimes humorous novel filled with suspense, action, redemption, and even romance. Seventeen-year-old Jeremy Prine decides to honor his mother’s dying wish and seek out his estranged uncle who was badly burned in the accident that killed Jeremy’s father. He finds the man working as a hard-rock miner in the south, an extremely dangerous occupation. His uncle seems a bitter and lonely man, but Jeremy senses more beneath the surface. Against his uncle’s wishes, Jeremy takes a job as a miner and soon his young faith is tested by his rough and gritty co-workers, the threat of danger … and the possibility of love.

Born of Persuasion by Jessica Dotta

The year is 1838, and seventeen-year-old Julia Elliston’s position has never been more fragile. Orphaned and unmarried in a time when women are legal property of their fathers, husbands, and guardians, she finds herself at the mercy of an anonymous guardian who plans to establish her as a servant in far-off Scotland.

With two months to devise a better plan, Julia’s first choice to marry her childhood sweetheart is denied. But when a titled dowager offers to introduce Julia into society, a realm of possibilities opens. However, treachery and deception are as much a part of Victorian society as titles and decorum, and Julia quickly discovers her present is deeply entangled with her mother’s mysterious past. Before she knows what’s happening, Julia finds herself a pawn in a deadly game between two of the country’s most powerful men. With no laws to protect her, she must unravel the secrets on her own. But sometimes truth is elusive and knowledge is deadly.

Dancing on Glass by Pamela Binnings Ewen

In the steamy city of New Orleans in 1974, Amalise Catoir meets Phillip Sharp, a charming, magnetic artist, unlike any man she has known.

A young lawyer herself, raised in a small town and on the brink of a career with a large firm, she is strong and successful, yet sometimes too trusting and whimsical. Ama’s rash decision to marry Phillip proves to be a mistake as he becomes overly possessive, drawing his wife away from family, friends, and her faith.

His insidious, dangerous behavior becomes her dark, inescapable secret. In this lawyer’s unraveling world, can grace survive Ama’s fatal choice? What would you do when prayers seem to go unanswered, faith has slipped away, evil stalks, and you feel yourself forever dancing on shattered glass?

For Time And Eternity by Allison Pittman

All Camilla Deardon knows of the Mormons camping nearby is the songs she hears floating on the breeze. Then she meets one of them—a young man named Nathan Fox. Never did she imagine he would be so handsome, so charming, especially after Mama and Papa’s warnings to stay away. Though she knows she should obey her parents, Camilla can’t refuse her heart. But even Nathan’s promises cannot prepare her for what she will face in Utah.

 

 

Invisible by Ginny Yttrup

Cafe owner Ellyn DeMoss seeks protection from pain behind extra pounds. So why is a handsome widower attracted to her? Abandoning her family, Sabina Jackson comes to Northern California to heal. But is she doing more hiding than healing? And Twila Boaz once wanted to disappear. Now she wants to conquer her eating disorder. Will she succeed?

 

 

 

 

Iscariot by Tosca Lee

Judas Iscariot…the name of Judas conjures up the ultimate betrayer. What could possibly bring him to such a vile decision to betray Jesus? Tosca Lee brilliantly captures Judas’ life; why he chose to follow Jesus when he was a respected scholar, what he witnesses day after day being near and speaking with Jesus. You will be captivated by every nuance of Judas’ story as he walked with Jesus and Judas’ history that led him to that point. Why did Jesus choose the path that he chose, from angering those in esteemed positions by not just allowing those who were “unclean” near him, but encouraging their presence? Judas struggled to understand Jesus’ motives and questioned them all along the way. The places where you question how and what Jesus did are brilliantly speculated by Tosca Lee in the amazing story of Iscariot.

The Sweetest Thing by Elizabeth Musser

Anne “Perri” Singleton’s world is defined by the security of family, the camaraderie of friends at an exclusive Atlanta girls’ school, and an enviable social life. She isn’t looking for new friends when Mary Dobbs Dillard arrives from Chicago. Besides, “Dobbs,” the passionate and fiercely individualistic daughter of an itinerant minister, is her opposite in every way.

But just as the Great Depression collides disastrously with Perri’s well-ordered life, friendship blossoms—a friendship that will be tested by jealousy, betrayal, and family secrets..

A Thousand Sleepless Nights by Michael King

In the 1970s, escaping a home where he knew nothing but violence and hate, Jim Harding found work, and love, on the largest horse ranch in Virginia. The object of his affections, Nena St. Claire, is the daughter of the owner, a man who ruled his ranch with an iron fist and would do whatever it took to keep Nena and Jim apart.
Against the wishes of her family, Nena marries Jim, and after her father dies, she sacrifices everything – -including her family — to keep the ranch alive. Now their three grown children have lives of their own and want nothing to do with Nena. She was never the mother they needed.

 

 
Wings of Glass by Gina Holmes From the best-selling author of Crossing Oceans comes a heartrending yet uplifting story of friendship and redemption. On the cusp of adulthood, eighteen-year-old Penny Carson is swept off her feet by a handsome farmhand with a confident swagger. Though Trent Taylor seems like Prince Charming and offers an escape from her one-stop-sign town, Penny’s happily-ever-after lasts no longer than their breakneck courtship. Before the ink even dries on their marriage certificate, he hits her for the first time. It isn’t the last, yet the bruises that can’t be seen are the most painful of all.When Trent is injured in a welding accident and his paycheck stops, he has no choice but to finally allow Penny to take a job cleaning houses. Here she meets two women from very different worlds who will teach her to live and laugh again, and lend her their backbones just long enough for her to find her own.

Yesterday’s Tomorrow by Catherine West

She’s after the story that might get her the Pulitzer. He’s determined to keep his secrets to himself.

Vietnam 1967.

Independent, career-driven journalist Kristin Taylor wants two things: to honor her father’s memory by becoming an award-winning overseas correspondent, and to keep tabs on her only brother, Teddy, who signed up for the war against their mother’s wishes.
Brilliant photographer Luke Maddox, silent and brooding, exudes mystery. Kristin is convinced he’s hiding something.

Willing to risk it all for what they believe in, Kristin and Luke engage in their own tumultuous battle until, in an unexpected twist, they’re forced to work together. Ambushed by love, they must decide whether or not to set aside their own private agendas for the hope of tomorrow that has captured their hearts.

What Book Would You Recommend?

Book Review: Madman

8 Mar

If there is a way into madness, logic says there is a way out. Logic says. Tallis, a philosopher’s servant, is sent to a Greek academy in Palestine only to discover that it has silently, ominously, disappeared. No one will tell him what happened, but he learns what has become of four of its scholars. One was murdered. One committed suicide. One worships in the temple of Dionysus. And one . . . one is a madman.

From Christy Award–winning author Tracy Groot comes a tale of mystery, horror, and hope in the midst of unimaginable darkness: the story behind the Gerasene demoniac of the Gospels of Mark and Luke.

 

Tracy Groot is the critically acclaimed and Christy Award-winning author of several works of historical fiction. Her books have received starred Booklist and Publishers Weekly reviews and have been called “beautifully written” and “page-turning” by Publishers Weekly, and “gripping” with “exquisitely drawn” characters by Library Journal.

Tracy and her husband have three sons, one daughter (in-law) and live in Hudsonville, Michigan.

Connect with Tracy at her website (tracygroot.com), or follow her on Facebook (@tracy.groot).

 

My Impressions:

I lead a combo Bible study/book club at my church. Our Faith And Fiction group was concentrating on the healing miracles of Jesus and chose Madman by Tracy Groot as the complimentary novel. The book is based on the Biblical account of the Gerasene demoniac. While the book received mixed reviews from the members of the study, I found it a challenging and viewpoint-expanding read. Complex in structure as well as characterization, Madman is a book that must be read slowly to experience all that it has to offer. It is Biblical fiction like no other I have encountered. Told from the perspective of a servant of a Greek philosopher, a student in his own right, Madman gives the reader a look into the Gentile life of Palestine. Should you read it? This one is not for someone who wants a quick, easy, or even light read. Its subject matter is madness and demonic possession and the power of Jesus to reach into both and set the captive free. If you are up for a challenge, then I urge you to give this one a look.

Tallis has been sent by his master, Calimachus, to the Decapolis in Palestine to find out what has happened to the philosophical school that had been founded in his name. What Tallis finds is mystery and danger and a tormented man who lives in the tombs.

The story is told from the third person point of view of Tallis and letters to his master back in Athens. Tallis has scars from a childhood trauma that make him vulnerable to both human and spiritual attack. But as he receives warning after warning to go home, Tallis is determined to find the truth. Supporting characters are interesting and unlike what I am used to in traditional Biblical fiction. Part of that may stem from the fact that all of the characters are Gentiles, descendants of Greek colonists that now make the Decapolis their home. The Decapolis is very definitely not a Jewish enclave. Its cultural life is based upon its Greek origins and includes the pagan rites and worship foreign to their Jewish neighbors. It is this paganism that I found the most interesting. While the Greeks prided themselves on rational thought and discourse, parts of their society clung to worship of gods that demanded much from their adherents. Tallis must deal with the whys of the man’s demonic possession, something that is missing from the Biblical record. The reader soon discovers that pride, arrogance, and the search for god-like power and knowledge leave more than the man in the tombs vulnerable to demonic attack. The entrance of Jesus into the story comes late in the book, but there is a great anticipation of his arrival that is felt throughout. I found the portrayal of the demoniac’s torment and his ultimate deliverance especially powerful.

Madman is an early book by Tracy Groot. This Christy Award winner for historical fiction has just been recently re-released. While I am not sure my reading experience was one of enjoyment, I am glad I read this riveting novel.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

(I purchased this book from Amazon. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

Top 10 Tuesday: First Lines

6 Mar

Today I am recycling because that is what busy bloggers do when they are short on time and inspiration! 😉 This week That Artsy Reader Girl is challenging bloggers to list their Top 10 Favorite Book Quotes. I’m a slacker when it comes to keeping a journal filled with the wonderful nuggets I find in the pages of a book. But as I thought about the topic, I couldn’t help but think how it is the first lines that I almost always remember. I haven’t read (or rather re-read) Rebecca in a long while, but I can still quote that memorable first line — Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again. Another wonderful weekly meme I participate in is First Line Friday hosted by Hoarding Books (their tagline is it’s not HOARDING if it’s BOOKS — great, huh?). It has been lots of fun discovering new books and authors through first lines. So today, I will share some first lines from books that were fabulous reads. I hope that you find your next great book today!

 

Top First Lines

Blind Spot by Dani Pettrey

Christy by Catherine Marshall 

Melody of The Soul by Liz Tolsma

Missing Isaac by Valerie Fraser Luesse

Oath of Honor by Lynette Eason

A Passionate Hope by Jill Eileen Smith

Rule of Law by Randy Singer

The Saturday Night Supper Club by Carla Laureano

A Song of Home by Susie Finkbeiner

Stars in The Grass by Ann Marie Stewart 

 

What’s your favorite book quote?