A Light on the Hill by Connilyn Cossette {book review}


A Light on the Hill by Connilyn Cossette {book review} is the first in the Cities of Refuge series. This book is a must-read for lovers of biblical fiction. You will walk in time and place with the young woman Moriyah, hearing her heart, feeling her fear, knowing her Yaweh. This book is full of action, faith and fear. It will leave you with much to ponder in its wake.

Summary:

Though Israel has found relative peace, Moriyah has yet to find her own. Attempting to avoid the scorn of her community, she’s spent the last seven years hiding behind the veil she wears. Underneath her covering, her face is branded with the mark of the Canaanite gods, a shameful reminder of her past captivity in Jericho and an assurance that no man will ever want to marry her.

When her father finds a widower who needs a mother for his two sons, her hopes rise. But when their introduction goes horribly wrong, Moriyah is forced to flee for her life. Seeking safety at one of the newly established Levitical cities of refuge, she is wildly unprepared for the dangers she will face and the enemies–and unexpected allies–she will encounter on her way.

My Reaction:

This book grows on you after you finish reading it. I consider that a mark of a good book.

It is beyond understanding how this author can transport her readers to a long ago time in a far away place, which she does so well. Point of view being singular lends the story strength.

Continuous action and wonderful description of place and strong characters which share a part in the story which revolves around the people who worship Yaweh and their dealings with those who do not.

The thing which most impacted me is how this relates to my life today. People are people in any era of history.

I loved reading about the sacrifices. Somehow made it more real, meant more. And the Mosaic law and cities of refuge came alive in the story. Thank you Connie for your magnificent work!

I highly recommend this book to any reader interested in biblical fiction. I am not a huge fan of biblical fiction, but the two books I have read by this author may change my mind. I love how close to Scripture she keeps the story.

My Rating:  4 of 5 stars

I received an advanced copy of this book from Bethany House on Net Galley in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

About the Author:

When she is not homeschooling her two sweet kids (with a full pot of coffee at hand), Connilyn Cossette is scribbling notes on spare paper, mumbling about her imaginary friends, and reading obscure, out-of-print history books.

There is nothing she likes better than digging into the rich, ancient world of the Bible and uncovering buried gems of grace that point toward Jesus.

Her novel Counted With the Starswon the 2013 Frasier Contest and was a semifinalist in the 2013 ACFW Genesis Contest. Although a Pacific Northwest native, she now lives near Dallas, Texas. Connect with her at www.connilyncossette.com.

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The Hidden Side by Heidi Chiavaroli {book review}


The Hidden Side by Heidi Chiavaroli  ~ Mercy’s journals comfort Natalie from across the centuries as both women struggle with their own secrets and shame, wondering how deep God’s mercy extends.

There is darkness in this world, and as a writer who longs to bring truth into it, I can’t in good conscience ignore the darkness. I can, however, bring hope into it.  ~Heidi Chiavaroli

Summary:

New York, 2016
Natalie Abbott offers answers for hurting listeners on her popular radio program. But she struggles to connect with her teenagers, with her daughter in an unhealthy relationship and her son uncommunicative and isolated. When one member of the family commits an unspeakable act, Natalie is forced to uncover who she truly is under the façade of her radio persona.

New York, 1776
Mercy Howard is shocked when her fiancé, Nathan Hale, is arrested and hanged as a spy. When she’s asked to join the revolutionary spy ring in Manhattan, she sees an opportunity to avenge Nathan’s death. But keeping her true loyalties hidden grows increasingly harder as the charming Major John Andre of the King’s Army becomes more to her than a target for intelligence.

Mercy’s journals comfort Natalie from across the centuries as both women struggle with their own secrets and shame, wondering how deep God’s mercy extends.

My Reaction:

This is my first read by this author. I have looked forward to reading one of her books for some time. I love Christian historical fiction from the Revolutionary War period. I love historical fiction period. This is not simply a work of historical fiction. It is written from two time periods simultaneously, 225 years apart. I admit it was difficult for me to switch back and forth from 1776 to 2016 with a rather loose connection. It was like reading two separate books with three points of view.

My Rating:  I give this book three-stars because it meets my requirements of a good book. The characters and plot are well-developed, thought-provoking, emotional, clean, and it is faith-based. Yet something is missing. While the author did a laudable job of writing parallel stories, I would have connected more with only one.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

The Author:

Heidi Chiavaroli is a writer, runner, and grace-clinger who could spend hours exploring Boston’s Freedom Trail. She writes Women’s Fiction and won the 2014 ACFW Genesis contest in the historical category.

Both her debut novel, “Freedom’s Ring” and her sophomore novel, “The Hidden Side” are Romantic Times Top Picks. “Freedom’s Ring” was also a BOOKLIST Top Ten Romance Debut, 2017.

What lessons or truths do you (Heidi) hope readers will take away from The Hidden Side?

That no matter what we try to conceal, even from ourselves, there is nothing that God can’t free us from. That the only place worth hiding is in Jesus. There, we don’t have to have it all together or pretend to be something we’re not. We don’t have to be afraid of rejection. He loves us perfectly and enough to do a good work in us—a real work that will draw us closer to Him and make us more like Him. That’s where our true identity resides.

This novel explores some devastating events and topics—a school shooting, the loss of loved ones, and division within and among families. Why did you choose to tackle these difficult issues?

There is darkness in this world, and as a writer who longs to bring truth into it, I can’t in good conscience ignore the darkness. I can, however, bring hope into it. The funny thing about hope and good news is that it shines more brightly in the darkness.

So when I write about a bombing or a historical war, when I write about the unspeakable actions of a family member or a heart torn apart by addiction and suffering, in part, it is what I relate to. It’s where despair tends to trip me up in this messy, broken world. BUT there is hope. And that is where I choose to cling, and it is this message that burns in my heart to bring forth to my readers.

She makes her home in Massachusetts with her husband, two sons, and Howie, her standard poodle. Visit her online at heidichiavaroli.com.

Right now, she’s finishing up some research for her third book with Tyndale, scheduled to release in 2020, in revolutionary and contemporary Boston.

To learn more about the author and her books, visit her website at heidichiavaroli.com, her Twitter account, her Goodreads page, her Pinterest boards, her Facebook page.

Thank you, Heidi, for your hard work in writing this difficult story, and may God bless your future writings!

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Under a Cloudless Sky by Chris Fabry {book review}


Under a Cloudless Sky by Chris Fabry, (bestselling author of War Room) is a charming and engrossing novel for fans of Southern fiction which explores the well-kept secrets of a  coal-mining town in danger of being destroyed for the sake of profit.

Actually it is the story of two girls who were best friends, and what became of them.

Summary:

1933. In the mining town of Beulah Mountain, West Virginia, two young girls form an unbreakable bond against the lush Appalachian landscape, coal dust and old hymns filling their lungs and hearts. Despite the polarizing forces of their fathers–one a mine owner, one a disgruntled miner –Ruby and Bean thrive under the tender care of Bean’s mama, blissfully unaware of the rising conflict in town and the coming tragedy that will tear them apart forever.

2004. Hollis Beasley is taking his last stand. Neighbors up and down the hollow have sold their land to Coleman Coal and Energy, but Hollis is determined to hold on to his family legacy on Beulah Mountain. Standing in his way is Buddy Coleman, an upstart mining executive who hopes to revitalize the dying town by increasing coal production and opening the Company Store Museum. He’ll pay homage to the past–even the massacre of 1933–while positioning the company for growth at all costs.

What surprises them all is how their stories will intersect with a feisty octogenarian living hundreds of miles away. When Ruby Handley Freeman’s grown children threaten her independence, she takes a stand of her own and disappears, propelling her on a journey to face a decades-old secret that will change everything for her and those she meets.

My Reaction:

Chris Fabry has written many books, is a best-selling author and hosts his own show on Moody Radio. This is my first read of his, hopefully the first of many.

This is the story of two girls, best friends, in a coal-mining town in West Virginia, and what became of them. It is a fictitious story from the author’s imaginings based on the lives of real people.

To be perfectly honest I did not enjoy reading this book. But this is one of those books that stays with you and the characters grow in the reader’s mind revealing the depth of the writing, which means it is very good.

The story is dark in places, and deep, real life; with a hint of hope, faith and love. I love the use of the hymn Beulah Land in the book.

It was difficult to keep track of the characters and understand the connections until the end (no spoilers). That is also a sign of good writing. By the end of the book I understood, and continue to understand as I mull it over.

The parallel time periods might have been clearer if the chapter headings were larger, more bold. I’m tempted to re-read the book just to get the flow now that it makes sense. I think it was necessary to write this way to convey the message of the book, which is tightly woven into the story and characters, which are vivid, and the action moves right along.

I identified most with the character of Frances. What character did you like best?

I recommend this book for all readers of historical and Christian fiction, young and old. There’s something in this book for every reader. I received this book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my honest review. My opinions are my own.

My Rating: 3 stars

This review is also published on Goodreads, Christianbook.com, and Tyndale House Publishing.

The Author:

Chris Fabry is an award-winning author and radio personality who hosts the daily program Chris Fabry Live on Moody Radio. He is also heard on Love Worth Finding, Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, and other radio programs. A 1982 graduate of the W. Page Pitt School of Journalism at Marshall University and native of West Virginia, Chris and his wife, Andrea, now live in Arizona and are the parents of nine children.

Chris’ novels, which include Dogwood, June Bug, Almost Heaven, Not in the Heart, Borders of the Heart, Every Waking Moment, The Promise of Jesse Woods, Looking into You, and his latest release, Under a Cloudless Sky, have won five Christy Awards, an ECPA Christian Book Award, and two Christianity Today Book Awards of Merit, but it’s his lyrical prose and tales of redemption that keep readers returning for more.

Chris has also published more than 70 other books, ranging from nonfiction and film novelizations, including the recent bestseller War Room, to novels for children and young adults. He coauthored the Left Behind: The Kids series with Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye, as well as the Red Rock Mysteries and The Wormling series with Jerry B. Jenkins. RPM is his latest series for kids and explores the exciting world of NASCAR.

Visit Chris’ website at www.chrisfabry.com. Read what Chris has to say about this book on his blog.

For more about the author and this book check out the downloadable  Author Q & A at Tyndale House Publishing.

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