Tag Archives: Biblical fiction

Congrats to The 2018 Christy Award Winners!

8 Nov

Congratulations to the winners of the 2018 Christy Award! I have read several on the list and concur that they are indeed award-winning. The list includes a variety of genres, so there is something for everyone. They are all good read guaranteed!

 

Contemporary Romance

True to You by Becky Wade

After a devastating heartbreak three years ago, genealogist and historical village owner Nora Bradford has decided that burying her nose in her work and her books is far safer than romance in the here and now.

Unlike Nora, former Navy SEAL and Medal of Honor recipient John Lawson is a modern-day man, usually 100 percent focused on the present. But when he’s diagnosed with an inherited condition, he’s forced to dig into the secrets of his past and his adoption as an infant, enlisting Nora to help him uncover the identity of his birth mother.

The more time they spend together, the more this pair of opposites suspects they just might be a perfect match. However, John’s already dating someone and Nora’s not sure she’s ready to trade her crushes on fictional heroes for the risks of a real relationship. Finding the answers they’re seeking will test the limits of their identity, their faith, and their devotion to one another.

First Novel

Missing Isaac by Valerie Fraser Luesse

There was another South in the 1960s, one far removed from the marches and bombings and turmoil in the streets that were broadcast on the evening news. It was a place of inner turmoil, where ordinary people struggled to right themselves on a social landscape that was dramatically shifting beneath their feet. This is the world of Valerie Fraser Luesse’s stunning debut, Missing Isaac.

It is 1965 when black field hand Isaac Reynolds goes missing from the tiny, unassuming town of Glory, Alabama. The townspeople’s reactions range from concern to indifference, but one boy will stop at nothing to find out what happened to his unlikely friend. White, wealthy, and fatherless, young Pete McLean has nothing to gain and everything to lose in his relentless search for Isaac. In the process, he will discover much more than he bargained for. Before it’s all over, Pete — and the people he loves most — will have to blur the hard lines of race, class, and religion. And what they discover about themselves may change some of them forever.

General Fiction 

Life After by Katie Ganshert

Snow whirls around an elevated train platform in Chicago. A distracted woman boards the train, takes her seat, and moments later a fiery explosion rips through the frigid air, tearing the car apart in a horrific attack on the city’s transit system. One life is spared. Twenty-two are lost.
 
A year later, Autumn Manning can’t remember the day of the bombing and she is tormented by grief—by guilt. Twelve months of the question constantly echoing. Why? Why? Why? Searching for answers, she haunts the lives of the victims, unable to rest. 
 
Paul Elliott lost his wife in the train bombing and wants to let the dead rest in peace, undisturbed and unable to cause more pain for his loved ones. He wants normalcy for his twelve-year-old daughter and young son, to see them move beyond the heartbreak. But when the Elliotts and Autumn are unexpectedly forced together, he fears she’ll bring more wreckage in her wake. 
 
In Life After, Katie Ganshert’s most complex and unforgettable novel yet, the stirring prose and authentic characters pose questions of truth, goodness, and ultimate purpose in this emotionally resonant tale.

Historical

Isaiah’s Daughter by Mesu Andrews

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.

Historical Romance

The Lacemaker by Laura Frantz

When colonial Williamsburg explodes like a powder keg on the eve of the American Revolution, Lady Elisabeth “Liberty” Lawson is abandoned by her fiancé and suspected of being a spy for the hated British. No one comes to her aid save the Patriot Noble Rynallt, a man with formidable enemies of his own. Liberty is left with a terrible choice. Will the Virginia belle turned lacemaker side with the radical revolutionaries, or stay true to her English roots? And at what cost?

Historical romance favorite Laura Frantz is back with a suspenseful story of love, betrayal, and new beginnings. With her meticulous eye for detail and her knack for creating living, breathing characters, Frantz continues to enchant historical fiction readers who long to feel they are a part of the story.

Mystery/Suspense/Thriller

The House on Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright

Kaine Prescott is no stranger to death. When her husband died two years ago, her pleas for further investigation into his suspicious death fell on deaf ears. In desperate need of a fresh start, Kaine purchases an old house sight unseen in her grandfather’s Wisconsin hometown. But one look at the eerie, abandoned house immediately leaves her questioning her rash decision. And when the house’s dark history comes back with a vengeance, Kaine is forced to face the terrifying realization she has nowhere left to hide.

A century earlier, the house on Foster Hill holds nothing but painful memories for Ivy Thorpe. When an unidentified woman is found dead on the property, Ivy is compelled to discover her identity. Ivy’s search leads her into dangerous waters and, even as she works together with a man from her past, can she unravel the mystery before any other lives — including her own — are lost?

Short Form

12 Days at Bleakly Manor by Michelle Griep

England, 1851: When Clara Chapman receives an intriguing invitation to spend Christmas at an English manor home, she is hesitant yet feels compelled to attend—for if she remains the duration of the twelve-day celebration, she is promised a sum of five hundred pounds.

But is she walking into danger? It appears so, especially when she comes face to face with one of the other guests—her former fiancé, Benjamin Lane.

Imprisoned unjustly, Ben wants revenge on whoever stole his honor. When he’s given the chance to gain his freedom, he jumps at it—and is faced with the anger of the woman he stood up at the altar. Brought together under mysterious circumstances, Clara and Ben discover that what they’ve been striving for isn’t what ultimately matters.

What matters most is what Christmas is all about . . . love.

Visionary 

The Man He Never Was by James Rubart

Toren Daniels vanished eight months back, and his wife and kids have moved on—with more than a little relief. Toren was a good man but carried a raging temper that often exploded without warning. So when he shows up on their doorstep out of the blue, they’re shocked to see him alive. But more shocked to see he’s changed. Radically.

His anger is gone. He’s oddly patient. Kind. Fun. The man he always wanted to be. Toren has no clue where he’s been but knows he’s been utterly transformed. He focuses on three things: Finding out where he’s been. Finding out how it happened. And winning back his family.

But then shards of his old self start to rise from deep inside—like the man kicked out of the NFL for his fury—and Toren must face the supreme battle of his life.

In this fresh take on the classic Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, James L. Rubart explores the war between the good and evil within each of us—and one man’s only chance to overcome the greatest divide of the soul.

Young Adult

The Delusion by Laura Gallier

By March of Owen Edmonds’s senior year, eleven students at Masonville High School have committed suicide. Amid the media frenzy and chaos, Owen tries to remain levelheaded―until he endures his own near-death experience and wakes to a distressing new reality.

The people around him suddenly appear to be shackled and enslaved.

Owen frantically seeks a cure for what he thinks are crazed hallucinations, but his delusions become even more sinister. An army of hideous, towering beings, unseen by anyone but Owen, are preying on his girlfriend and classmates, provoking them to self-destruction.

Owen eventually arrives at a mind-bending conclusion: he’s not imagining the evil―everyone else is blind to its reality. He must warn and rescue those he loves . . . but this proves to be no simple mission. Will he be able to convince anyone to believe him before it’s too late?

Owen’s heart-pounding journey through truth and delusion will force him to reconsider everything he believes. He both longs for and fears the answers to questions that are quickly becoming too dangerous to ignore.

Book of The Year

True to You by Becky Wade

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Book Review: Reign

7 Nov

From the moment her marriage to prince Ahab thrusts her into the intrigues of palace life, Jezebel’s exotic beauty opens doors and her will breaks down walls. Torn from her homeland and wed to power in a strange country, Jezebel vows to create a legacy and power all her own. Some might call her a manipulative schemer, bent on having her way. But they don’t know the whole story, and she was much, much worse.

As she moves through the halls of power, her heart struggles between devotion to the gods she worships, the prince who loves her, and her thirst for revenge. She sparks a battle between her strangely powerless gods and the God of palace administrator Obadiah — a God who confronts her with surprising might. She will fight, though victory may cost her everything.

Ginger Garrett graduated from SMU in Dallas, Texas, with a degree in theatre arts and a focus on playwriting. Although she applied to the CIA to become an international master of espionage, she had to settle for selling pharmaceuticals for a large corporation. She eventually travelled the world on her own dime and without a disguise.

Ginger now lives in Atlanta with her husband, three children, and two rescue dogs. She spends her time baking gluten free goodness for her friends and family, and mentors middle school students who want to become working writers. Passionate about science, history, and women’s studies, Ginger loves exploring new ideas and old secrets. She especially loves good books read late at night.

Ginger is a popular speaker and a frequent radio and television guest. She has been featured by media across the country including Fox News, USA Today, Library Journal, 104.7 The Fish Atlanta, FamilyNet Television, National Public Radio, Harvest Television, and more.

My Impressions:

I lead a Bible study at my church that combines exploring scripture with a supplementary novel inspired by what we are studying. We call it The Faith And Fiction Bible Study, and it has been a great way to dive into the truth of God’s word in a unique way. I chose Reign by Ginger Garret to accompany our look into the life of Ahab and Jezebel. The study has been eye-opening for me, and Reign made real the cultural influences of the era. While many in my group described it as a hard or unpleasant read because of it’s depiction of the depravity of pagan worship, I appreciate the research that Garrett used to bring one of the most vilified characters in the Bible to life.

Reign depicts the life of Jezebel — her early life in Sidon and subsequent marriage to Ahab. A princess of the Phoenicians, Jezebel and Ahab’s marriage cemented the trade and political fortune of Israel with the seafaring nation. Unfortunately, with the increased economic prospects, Jezebel brought pagan worship to the northern kingdom and made it state-recognized and approved. This was the crux of God’s anger and judgment towards Ahab’s reign. While the framework of the novel rests on facts, the fictional life of Jezebel, the what-ifs, were fascinating. Garrett develops a character who is very much influenced by her past experiences. Pagan worship, though horrific in its implications, was a normal part of Jezebel’s upbringing. That point leads to all kinds of questions of how our own beliefs and experiences impact our actions, even if in opposition to God’s word. There’s not much to like about Jezebel and Ahab — really nothing at all. But the secondary character of Obadiah, mentioned as Ahab’s steward in the Biblical record, provides good insight into how godly people may react when faced with direct opposition to the God they believe in. God’s truth is a big part of Reign and is presented by Elijah, Obadiah and other named and unnamed prophets. Could life for Jezebel been different? I loved the very subtle wooing by God (and the depiction of the counter-action of evil) that she ultimately rejects.

Reign, as I stated above, was not an easy read. But it did provide good insight into a very dark time in Israel’s history. If you like Biblical fiction, give this one a try.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

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

Book Review: Rebekah

4 Oct

When her father dies and she is left in the care of her conniving brother Laban, Rebekah knows her life has changed forever. Her hope for the future is restored when she falls in love with her cousin Isaac, and their relationship starts strong. But marital bliss cannot last forever, and the birth of their twin sons marks the beginning of years of misunderstanding, disagreement, and betrayal. The rift between them grows wider and wider until it is surely too deep to be mended. And yet, with God all things are possible.

Join bestselling author Jill Eileen Smith as she fills in the blanks around the biblical women behind the men we know well. Her in-depth research and creative storytelling bring Rebekah’s unique story alive with romance, heartache, and the power of forgiveness.

 

Jill Eileen Smith is the bestselling, award-winning author of the Wives of King David series, the Daughters of the Promised Land, the Wives of the Patriarchs, and The Loves of King Solomon series. Her research has taken her from the Bible to Israel, and she particularly enjoys learning how women lived in Old Testament times.

When she isn’t writing, she loves to spend time with her family and friends, read stories that take her away, ride her bike to the park, snag date nights with her hubby, try out new restaurants, or play with her lovable, “helpful” cat Tiger. Jill lives with her family in southeast Michigan.

Contact Jill through email (jill@jilleileensmith.com), her website (http://www.jilleileensmith.com), Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/jilleileensmith), or Twitter (https://twitter.com/JillEileenSmith).

 

My Impressions:

I lead a Bible study at my church that combines an in-depth look at scripture and a book club experience. I chose Rebekah by Jill Eileen Smith to compliment our study. I have read many novels by Smith and am always amazed at how close to scripture her fictional accounts are. While there isn’t much historical detail of Rebekah and Isaac’s life, Smith does a creditable job fleshing out the characters we thought we knew. I recommend Rebekah for fans of Biblical fiction, especially if they want to use it as a springboard to dig into God’s word.

Rebekah spans the time period that is laid out in Genesis 24-28. The author recreates the ancient world bringing it vividly into the imagination of the modern reader. The novel focuses on the marriage of Isaac and Rebekah and the tension that is created by the favoritism shown by each towards their twin sons Esau and Jacob. What-ifs are explored in a plausible way. One member of our group stated that while they had always thought of the account of Isaac and Rebekah’s relationship as a love story, the story is a real marriage with real-life struggles common to all. Another member expressed that these were not nice people and that scenes in the novel made her read the Bible record more closely. That’s the benefit of well-done Biblical fiction, and Smith achieves it.

The final verdict from our group of 15? A unanimous thumbs up!

Recommended.

Great for book clubs.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

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

 

Top 10 Tuesday — Missing Out

25 Sep

Because the number of books on my shelf, Kindle, and wish lists don’t equal the amount of free time I have to read, i have *gasp* unread books by favorite authors. Those are the books that whisper the loudest read me as I pass their resting place. Many of the books have been waiting many years; others are more recent additions. Some, when read, will put a finished check mark next to a series. I have every intention of reading them all!  That Artsy Reader Girl wants us to fess up this week and share those deserving titles. Have you read any of the books on my list? Tell me which one I should read next.

Head over to That Artsy Reader Girl for other bloggers’ true confessions.

 

Top 10 Unread Books by Favorite Authors

 

Chateau of Secrets by Melanie Dobson

The Haven by Suzanne Woods Fisher

The Journey by Angela Hunt

Luther And Katharina by Jody Hedlund

The Mark of The King by Jocelyn Green

Maybe It’s You by Candace Calvert

A Memory Between Us by Sarah Sundin

Mine Is The Night by Liz Curtis Higgs

Portrait of Vengeance by Carrie Stuart Parks

Stones of My Accusers by Tracy Groot

 

What books by favorite authors do you need to read?

 

 

Top 10 Tuesday — Book Buzz

31 Jul

All over the social media world you can find book buzz on FB pages/groups, book blogs, the tweeterverse, bookstagram, etc. So do books stand up to all the hype? I have a list of 10 recent reads that not only lived up to all the hoopla, but exceeded it.  I highly recommend the following books; they are the Real Deal!

Find out what other bloggers are saying at That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top 10 Books That Exceeded Their Buzz

 

Before I Saw You by Amy K. Sorrells

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

Just Let Go by Courtney Walsh

Land of Silence by Tessa Afshar

The Love Letter by Rachel Hauck

The Masterpiece by Francine Rivers 

The Reckoning at Gossamer Pond by Jaime Jo Wright

A Refuge Assured by Jocelyn Green

Sons of Blackbird Mountain by Joanne Bischof

Where Hope Begins by Catherine West

 

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?

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.)