Tag Archives: Lynn Austin

Book Review: On This Foundation

8 Jan

When news that the wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire, Nehemiah, Jewish cupbearer to King Artaxerxes in Persia, seeks God’s guidance. After fasting and prayer, he’s given leave to travel to Jerusalem and rebuild the city wall, not anticipating all the dangers that await him on his arrival.

The leaders of the surrounding nations become his fierce enemies, plotting to assassinate him and halt the work. A drought, meanwhile, has left the country impoverished, many families resorting to selling their children as bondservants just to keep from starving.

Capturing the rebuilding of the wall through the eyes of a number of characters, On This Foundation is a powerful exploration of faith in the midst of oppression, and hope that, in spite of appearances, the gracious hand of God is upon those who believe.

 

Lynn Austin is the author of many Christian fiction novels and holds the record for most Christy Awards won: eight. One of her books, Hidden Places was turned into a Hallmark Channel movie. She and her husband have three children and live in the Chicago area.

 

My Impressions:

On This Foundation, the third and concluding novel in Lynn Austin’s Restoration Chronicles, has been on my shelf way too long. I read the first two books, Return to Me and Keepers of The Covenant, in quick succession. Why, oh why, did I wait so long to read this wonderful novel? I can only plead ignorance — ignorance to how great this thoroughly researched and beautifully constructed book is. I expect writing Biblical fiction can be a daunting task, but Austin makes it look effortless. From the opening page to the last sentence, I devoured this book. It gets a highly recommended rating from me!

On This Foundation tells the story of Nehemiah, cupbearer to King Artaxerxes, who takes on the challenge of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. He is heartbroken by the state of his nation and the city that houses the worship center of the Almighty One. His determination to glorify God fuels the project threatened by obstacles from without and within Jerusalem.

Because On This Foundation is a re-telling of a Biblical story, it had to be accurate. As I read, I referred to the Biblical record to ensure that Austin had her facts straight. She did! The novel also did what all great Christian fiction should do — it pointed me to what God had to say on the matter. Nehemiah is believably written. He is an heroic figure, but has flaws common to all men. That’s important to portray, since God always chooses regular people to achieve his goals. I liked that Austin had Nehemiah struggle with trusting God and focusing on His goals. There are two other storylines that added depth to the story. Austin’s use of women characters makes the novel real and relatable. Trust in God is a major theme for these characters as well. As one character puts it — “All our lives, we’ve believed that Abba’s decisions were for our own good. We have to trust our heavenly Father the same way. Everything He does is for our good and for His purposes, even if we don’t understand it.” Prayer also plays a significant role in the life of the characters, and they have the same doubts and fears as the modern-day reader. Although On This Foundation takes place in 445 BC, its message is spot-on for contemporary readers.

On This Foundation is part of a series, but can easily be read as a standalone novel. I am using it in my Faith And Fiction Bible study later this month and am looking forward to its being a great compliment to our Bible study.

Highly Recommended.

Great for Book Clubs.

To purchase, click HERE.

(Thanks to Bethany House for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

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Top Ten Tuesday — All The Pretty Covers! (languishing on my TBR shelf)

24 Jan

A few weeks ago the Top Ten Tuesday theme was books from 2016 that should have been read. My shelves are overflowing with 2016 titles as well as those from 2015, 2014, 2013 . . . . So in an act of equal time and fairness, I wanted to showcase more books that are so pretty, yet sit forlornly on my shelves waiting for me to come and open them up. I’m an equal opportunity neglecter — you’ll find both historical and contemporary fiction on this list.

This week the folks at The Broke And The Bookish are giving bloggers a Freebie. Check out what other topics they are exploring HERE.

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10 Beautiful Books Waiting Patiently on The Shelf

All Things New by Lynn Austin

Dry As Rain by Gina Holmes

Esther: Royal Beauty by Angela Hunt

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Every Waking Moment by Chris Fabry

Finding Me by Kathryn Cushman

Heart Echoes by Sally John

A Lasting Impression by Tamera Alexander

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Luther And Katharina by Jody Hedlund

Until I Found You by Victoria Bylin

The Woods Edge by Lori Benton

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Which book should I read first?

Mini-Reviews from My Friend Carrie

19 Jan

Books are beginning to overtake my house! So I have enlisted my friend Carrie to help me with the enormous reading backlog. Here are her thoughts on four historical novels from Bethany House Publishers.

unknownThe Doctor’s Lady by Jody Hedlund

Priscilla White has known that she wants to be a missionary since she was fifteen. Her plan is to go to India. Dr. Eli Ernest is about to travel back to Oregon to begin ministering to the Nez Perce Indians. What neither one of them anticipated was the missionary board declaring that they can’t go to their respective missions unless they are married. Circumstances dictate them to marry in name only and begin the long journey across the country. The Doctor’s Lady will remind you that God’s ways are better than our own and that even in our mistakes He can work miracles. This historical fiction novel is inspired by the true story of Marcus and Narcissa Whitman. After reading this book, you will want to read about this amazing couple who journeyed into the unknown to go on mission to the Nez Perce.

unknown-2A Heart Most Worthy by Siri Mitchell

Julietta, Annamaria, and Luciana are seamstresses for the popular and coveted dressmaker Madame Fortier in Boston in 1918. These three girls although very talented seamstresses are very different. Julietta is carelessly adventurous in chasing after love. Annamaria is quiet and reserved but longs for love and a family of her own, but is stuck taking care of her family as the oldest daughter instead of finding love. Luciana keeps her past and who she is a secret. If people discover who she really is many people will be would be in danger. Love still finds her though even in her secrecy. A Heart Most Worthy weaves together three women’s stories beautifully. This book will keep you thinking with romance, adventure, and danger around every corner.

unknown-1Maid to Match by Deeanne Gist

Tillie Reese has dreamed her entire life of becoming a lady’s maid. As head parlor maid at the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina, Tillie realizes her dream may come true when the lady of the house Mrs. Edith Vanderbilt’s lady’s maid is planning to return to her home country of France. Mack Danvers, a mountain man who is not inclined to work long at the Biltmore, comes and challenges Tillie’s dreams with his aggressive behavior and strong beliefs. She is left to question everything she ever thought she wanted. Maid to Match is a delightful story of how the servant class was in the late 1800’s. It is full of lovable characters who you can’t help but care for and want to meet. It will leave you to ponder your life and what your dreams really are. By the end of the book you will want to plan a trip to North Carolina to see the Biltmore Mansion where this story takes place. (The Kindle version is currently 99 cents!)

unknown-3Wonderland Creek by Lynn Austin

Alice Grace Ripley lives the perfect life. She has a job she loves as a librarian. She gets to read all the time. She has a wonderful boyfriend. Life couldn’t be better; until she loses her job due to the Great Depression and her boyfriend breaks up with her. In a day’s time Alice’s world is turned upside down, and she feels like her life is spinning out of control. To get away from her circumstances, she leaves for Kentucky to drop off a donation of books to a small town very different from her own. No cars, no running water, no libraries. Suddenly Alice sees a purpose for herself: join the librarians for this coal-mining town and ride on horseback to homes to deliver books. What Alice discovers is life can give just as much adventure as a book. She discovers excitement, mystery, friendship, and even romance that she never experienced before. Wonderland Creek shows what life in the backwoods of Kentucky was like during the Great Depression. It portrays how some were able to read through the adventures of the traveling librarians.

(Thanks to Bethany House for complimentary copies of these books. All opinions are Carrie’s alone.)

 

Thanks so much, Carrie, for sharing your thoughts!

cfjijvbwiaa_nch-jpg-smallCarrie McNair is wife to Terry and mother to two active boys, Caden and Noah. Carrie is a Model Teacher. That means people from far and wide come to find out about excellence in the classroom by observing her and her students. A committed bookworm, Carrie makes sure her students develop a love of reading.

Top 10 Tuesday — Best of 2016

27 Dec

2016 was a whirlwind of activity for my family. Several weddings, a couple of bucket list trips, and relocations led to a very busy year. Amid it all I did manage to read some great books — some new releases and some new to me. So, I am supposed to narrow my list to just 10. Hmm . . . can’t do it. 😉 So I have come up with two lists — Contemporary Fiction and Historical Fiction. No matter your preference of genre, there is something for you on these lists. To see what other bloggers consider their best of the best, please visit The Broke And The Bookish.

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Top Contemporary Fiction of 2016

 

Of Stillness and Storm by Michele Phoenix

Sea Rose Lane by Irene Hannon

Seeing Things by Patti Hill

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Since You’ve Been Gone by Christa Allan

Sister Dear by Laura McNeill

Song of Silence by Cynthia Ruchti

Sycamore Row by John Grisham

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Water From My Heart by Charles Martin

When Death Draws Near by Carrie Stuart Parks

The Witnesses by Robert Whitlow

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Top Historical Fiction of 2016

 

Anchor in The Storm by Sarah Sundin

AD 30 by Ted Dekker

A Day And A Life by Penelope Wilcock

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Forest Child by Heather Day Gilbert

The Inheritance by Michael Phillips

The Lady And The Lionheart by Joanne Bischof

Like A River From Its Course by Kelli Stuart

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The Memoir of Johnny Devine by Camille Eide

Though Waters Roar by Lynn Austin

Within The Veil by Brandy Valance

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Best of The Best of 2106

There were two books that I gave Very Highly Recommended ratings to in 2016. Both were from author Mike Nappa. These are great books I would recommend to everyone!

unknown2Annabel Lee

Fourteen miles east of Peachtree, Alabama, a secret is hidden. That secret’s name is Annabel Lee Truckson, and even she doesn’t know why her mysterious uncle has stowed her deep underground in a military-style bunker. He’s left her with a few German words, a barely-controlled guard dog, and a single command: “Don’t open that door for anybody, you got it? Not even me.”

Above ground, a former Army sniper called The Mute and an enigmatic “Dr. Smith” know about the girl. As the race begins to find her, the tension builds. Who wants to set her free? Why does the other want to keep her captive forever? Who will reach her first?

Private investigators Trudi Coffey and Samuel Hill need to piece together the clues and stay alive long enough to retrieve the girl–before it’s too late.

41jklpz8chl-_sx322_bo1204203200_The Raven 

As part of his regular street performance, a deception specialist who goes by the name The Raven picks his audience’s pockets while they watch. It’s harmless fun — until he decides to keep the spare wallet a city councilman doesn’t seem to miss, hoping for a few extra bucks. When he finds not money but compromising photos of the councilman and his “personal assistants”, The Raven hatches a plan to blackmail the man. However, he quickly finds himself in over his head with the Ukrainian Mafia and mired in a life-threatening plot code-named, “Nevermore”.

Private investigators Trudi Coffey and Samuel Hill must scramble to sort out the clues — and their complicated feelings for each other — to rescue The Raven and save hundreds of lives from a wildcard bent on revenge.

 

Top 10 Tuesday — Back To School!

30 Aug

Thanks to the folks at The Broke And The Bookish for weekly hosting Top 10 Tuesday. This week is the Back To School Top 10. To find out what other bloggers are posting, click HERE.

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School has been back in session since the last week in July here in middle Georgia. So, so glad that I don’t have any more kids in school! Oh wait, I do! My youngest son started his first year of Law School two weeks ago. My other two children have both completed Master’s degrees and on their way to outstanding careers. Yeah, I’m a bit proud!

When I read this week’s theme, I just couldn’t get the classic song Don’t Know Much out of my head. Here’s my list in tribute to that Sam Cooke classic.

The Don’t Know Much, Back To School Top 14

Don’t know much about  . . .

History. I really liked European history in school. American history, not so much. So here are a few books that feature those things I didn’t pay attention to in class.

Washington’s Lady by Nancy Moser (pre and post-Revolutionary War)

Burning Sky by Lori Benton (post-Revolutionary War)

The Sentinels of Andersonville by Tracy Groot (Civil War)

Though Waters Roar by Lynn Austin (Civil War, Women’s Suffrage, Prohibition)

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Biology. When I think of biology, I think of the birds and bees. When I think of the birds and bees, I think great romances. Here are some that fit that title.

Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Beth K. Vogt

The Dandelion Field by Kathryn Springer

The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck

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Science Books. Science? Yick! I glazed over in my HS Chemistry class and I didn’t even attempt Physics. Here are four novels that involve science but didn’t make me glaze over!

Bad Ground by Dale Cramer (mining)

Critical Reaction by Todd M. Johnson (nuclear energy)

Maximal Reserve by Sam Batterman (petroleum exploration)

Undetected by Dee Henderson (sonar)

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The French I Took. This may be because I took Spanish. LOL! The only French word I can say with confidence is oui! These books set in France deserve a definite oui, oui!

My Brother’s Crown by Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould (17th century)

Flame of Resistance by Tracy Groot (WWII)

Two Crosses by Elizabeth Musser (Algerian Civil War)

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What are some of your favorite school books?

Top Ten Tuesday! — Audiobooks

28 Jun

It’s Freebie Day at Top Ten Tuesday! Thanks to the gals at The Broke And The Bookish who host every week. To find out what other bloggers are sharing today, click HERE.

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I love audiobooks! I started listening about 6 years ago when I traveled 4+ hours to my daughter’s college soccer games. They filled the tedious hours of driving alone. I got my husband hooked on audiobooks when we would go on road trips for football games. With Summer in full swing now, I thought it would be good to share my favorites. Audiobooks are perfect for car or plane trips or when you just want to relax and have someone read to you. 🙂 I also listen while exercising and doing chores, basically anytime when it is too cumbersome to hold a book! I went a bit over the top with my list — 20+ books! But I really liked them and just had to share.

 

TOP 10 20+ FAVORITE AUDIOBOOKS

While it is important to have a good story, a good reader/narrator is also important for a quality audiobook — timing and voices/accents are key. My husband and I got hooked on Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot mysteries. But just any old narrator will not do; we have to have Hugh Fraser! Lucky for us, a ton of Poirot audiobooks featuring Fraser are available. He does an excellent job in making Poirot come to life. Here are a few of our favorites.

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The Christie audiobooks run about 6+ hours, making them a perfect choice for listening with others.

Along with the Christie mysteries, I have listened to some other excellent books. They vary in length, but have a two things in common: excellent stories and excellent narrators. The following have something for everyone — suspense, mystery, history. There is even a classic! Check them out!

The Advocate by Randy Singer, narrated by David Cochran Heath

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, narrated by Zach Appleman

Center of Gravity by Laura McNeill, narrated by Lisa Larsen

A Cry from The Dust by Carrie Stuart Parks, narrated by Teri Clark Linden

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The Curse of Crow Hollow by Billy Coffey, narrated by Gabe Wicks

Cuts Like A Knife by M.K. Gilroy, narrated by Coleen Marlo

Dead Lawyers Tell No Tales by Randy Singer, narrated by Joey Collins

Dubiosity by Christy Barritt, narrated by Joyce Bean

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Fear Has A Name by Creston Mapes, narrated by Paul Michael

Longbourn by Jo Baker, narrated by Emma Fielding

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline, narrated by Jessica Almasy/Suzanne Toren

The Outcast by Jolina Petersheim, narrated by Tavia Gilbert

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The Price of Privilege by Jessica Dotta, narrated by Amanda McKnight

The Racketeer by John Grisham, narrated by J.D. Jackson

Sycamore Row by John Grisham, narrated by Michael Beck

Though Waters Roar by Lynn Austin, narrated by Alyssa Bresnahan

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To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, narrated by Sissy Spacek

The Traitor’s Wife by Allison Pataki, narrated by Madeleine Maby

Vanished by Irene Hannon, narrated by Celeste Ciulla

Water from My Heart by Charles Martin, narrated by Kevin Stilwell

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What about you?

Do you listen to audiobooks?

 

Audiobook Review: Though Waters Roar

7 Mar

41Z7XttkxyL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Harriet Sherwood has always adored her grandmother. But when Harriet decides to follow her footsteps to fight for social justice, she certainly never expected her efforts to land her in jail. Nor did she expect her childhood enemy and notorious school bully, Tommy O’Reilly, to be the arresting officer. Languishing in a jail cell, Harriet has plenty of time to sift through the memories of the three generations of women who have preceded her. As each story emerges, the strength of her familyand their deep faith in the God of justice and righteousness brings Harriet to discovery of her own goals and motives for pursuing them.

 

 

laustin-183Bestselling author Lynn Austin has sold more than one million copies of her books worldwide. She is an eight-time Christy Award winner for her historical novels, as well as a popular speaker at retreats and conventions. Lynn and her husband have raised three children and live near Chicago.

 

My Impressions:

Lynn Austin is one of the most talented authors in the Christian fiction business today. I have read a number of her Biblical fiction offerings and loved them. Though Waters Roar is the first historical novel I have read by her, but it reinforces that she is a must-read author. A multi-generational saga set against the backdrop of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Though Waters Roar explores the role of women in the political events of the times while creating a very personal story of survival, sacrifice and love. This book is a 5-star read! Exceptional!

The stories of four generations of women are told in this well-researced narrative. History comes alive through the eyes and actions of Hannah, Bebe, Lucy and Harriet. Told in first person and third person accounts, Though Waters Roar shows the impact of women on various social causes such as abolition, temperance, and sufferage. The stories become personal as Hannah hides runaway slaves on a stop on the Underground Railway, Bebe lifts up hymns and prayers in front of saloons and Lucy wields her charms to influence politicians to vote for extension of women’s rights. The bulk of the story is Bebe’s, a woman who fights against society and her own inclinations to keep her family afloat in difficult times. Harriet grows up hearing the stories of her courageous family and yearns to make a difference too. Austin also weaves a faith message throughout the story, a message of dependence and obedience to God. As the women struggle with their own desires, their focus becomes God’s call for His will above all else.

Though Waters Roar is filled with historical events and personages, yet feels like a story told by your grandmother. These characters lived history making this story very, very real for the reader. I cannot say enough about this book — it is a must-read I would recommend to anyone. I listened to the audio version and the reader was excellent. She did a great job of becoming the voices of ordinary women who attempt the extraordinary.

Highly Recommended.

Audience: older teens and adults.

Great for book clubs.

To purchase this book, click HERE

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