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Christian Novel Review

Having always been an avid reader, since becoming a Christian I have found a wealth of reading material in Christian bookshops and in various second hand bookshops. I have found that in Christian novels one often finds truths that help in one’s Christian walk. I enjoy reading about how the various characters deal with life, and I also find I am the richer for reading a really good Christian novel. Certain authors, through their books, give you a real insight into their joys and struggles, which I find very interesting. The books which I am going to review are those which I have really enjoyed, and have read at least twice – some books, for example the “Mark of the Lion “ series by Francine Rivers, I have read at least five times each. The first books that I am going to talk about are the latest two novels by Francine Rivers,


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Thursday, 22 October 2020

TO DWELL AMONG CEDARS by CONNILYN COSSETTE

Publication date 1/12/20
TO DWELL AMONG CEDARS is the first novel in the Covenant House series by CONNILYN COSSETTE. I have read and loved all this author's books, and have been looking forward to reading this one for some time. I am definitely not disappointed. What a truly lovely story of redemption and restoration in which we get a taste of the awesome Presence and holiness of God in His interaction with His people.
With the two Philistine children, we follow the Ark of the Covenant to its resting place among the cedars at Kiryat-Yearim. The children are adopted by Elazar, the Levite who is in charge of guarding the Ark, and his wife Yoela, and treated as part of their large and loving family. Arisa, or Eliora as she is now called, has adopted the Hebrew faith and loves Yahweh and the Ark, which the Hebrew slave, Azuvah, who helped them escape Ashdod, told them to follow. She loves all her brothers and sisters, especially her brother Lukio, or Natan as he is now called, for whom she has felt responsible since their mother died in childbirth and their father abandoned them.
In 1062 BC Ronen, an apprentice Levite, comes to Kiryat-Yearim with a group of Levitical musicians to celebrate Yom Teruah, and finds that the young Philistine girl who he carried up the mountain eight years before has turned into a beautiful woman. They have a lot in common, in spite of the fact that he seems to have lost his faith in the miraculous and is hiding a deadly secret - they both feel beholden to the people who have adopted them into their families.
There is intrigue, jealousy, violent disagreement and even idol worship amongst the priesthood. We come across Samuel, the great man of God, with his words of warning and prophetic direction. We are also strongly reminded of the danger of running ahead of the Lord and following man made plans, trying to do things in our own strength.
The novel follows the Bible closely and the fictional characters flesh out the story beautifully, giving us an idea of life at that time for both Hebrew and Philistine through the author's solid research
I do not want to tell you any more for fear of spoiling the read for you.
I highly recommend To Dwell Among Cedars to anyone who enjoys Biblical fiction. It is a most enjoyable and inspirational read and I am looking forward to the next novel in the series.
I was given a free copy of the book by NetGalley from Bethany House Publishers. The opinions in this review are completely my own.

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Monday, 19 October 2020

BEAUTY AMONG RUINS by J'NELL CIESIELSKI

Publication date 12/1/21
BEAUTY AMONG RUINS by J'NELL CIESIELSKI is a really lovely historical romance novel which takes place in Scotland during the first world war. It is beautifully written, with unforgettable characters and a good bit of humour.
It is a story threaded with heartache and hope and one that really makes a person think.
There are enemies on all sides, not just the Germans who are responsible for the broken soldiers being treated at the convalescent home at Kinclavoch, but also those who would destroy everything in the way of their selfish ambitions.
The delightful Lily Durham is banished to England for a time by her parents with the hope that she will come into line with their plans for her life. They see her as cheeky and disrespectful and want to quench her friendly and optimistic spirit.
I love to see her kindness towards the Tommies in her care and also towards Viola, Lord Strathem's sister, and her gradual understanding of the grouchy Alec MacGregor, Lord Strathem.
The setting is so well described, with the ruggedness of Scotland and her wild weather playing a part in the story.
There is romance, suspense, inspiration and a feeling of restoration of that which is broken running through the book, and I cannot recommend Beauty Among Ruins highly enough.
I was given a free copy of the book by NetGalley from Thomas Nelson. The opinions in this review are completely my own.

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Friday, 16 October 2020

THE THIEF OF BLACKFRIARS LANE by MICHELLE GRIEP

Publication date 1/1/21
THE THIEF OF BLACKFRIARS LANE by MICHELLE GRIEP is a really great historical romance novel with a definite Dickensian flavour.
The story takes place in 1885 in the seedier parts of Victorian London, with unforgettable characters and a great deal of suspense.
Jackson Forge is a very new constable at the Old Jewry, serving under Sergeant Graybone, who is always threatening to fire Jackson whose enthusiasm to set the world aright leads him to make some serious mistakes. When Jackson takes it upon himself to find the missing hackney driver, Joe Card, he and the feisty trickster, Kit Turner, join forces to find the man who took her in off the streets when she was a child.
I am not going to tell you any more except to say that the story gripped me from start to finish. There is also a good Christian message of hope and trusting God to bring good out of even the worst situations. I cannot recommend the book highly enough.
I was given a free copy by NetGalley from Barbour Publishing. The opinions in this review are completely my own.

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Friday, 18 September 2020

THE REFRAIN WITHIN by LIZ TOLSMA

Publication date 29/9/20
THE REFRAIN WITHIN by LIZ TOLSMA takes place in Hungary in 1944 during World War 11. It is a poignant tale of incredible bravery, selflessness and unconditional love in the face of the gathering tide of hatred and anti Semitism during the Nazi occupation.
It is the story of the Bognar family who have been involved in music for generations. Patrik Kedves, Eva's fiance, is the conductor of the Budapest Youth Philharmonic, Eva, who plays and teaches the clarinet, and Zofia who plays the piano, have a music shop, and Erno and his father are carrying on the family tradition of making musical instruments, in particular the famous Bognar clarinet. I love the music theme running through the story and also the strong Christian message that ties everything so beautifully together.
Zofia, who is married to Erno, is Jewish, and she and Patrik are heavily involved in the underground Zionist movement. It is a time when people have to hold their secrets close to their chest, lying when necessary. It is hard to know who to trust, and Patrik, with his own secret, his work for the Zionists and protection of Zofia, stands to lose Eva as she becomes more and more sure that he is hiding something from her.
I literally could not put this book down - not only is it beautifully written with amazing characters, but I felt I had to try and see them through to the end! This is a real classic and one of the best novels I have read this year. I cannot recommend The Refrain Within highly enough.
I was given a free copy of the book by NetGalley from Independent Publishers Group. The opinions in this review are completely my own.



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Saturday, 12 September 2020

THE ORCHARD HOUSE by HEIDI CHIAVAROLI

Publication date 9/2/21
THE ORCHARD HOUSE by HEIDI CHIAVAROLI is a novel you do not want to miss, especially if you are like me and count "Little Women" as one of your favourite books! It is so cleverly written, with unforgettable characters and a profound message and with the past and present overlapping in such an amazing way.
We first come across Taylor in 1995 when, at the age of thirteen, she is fostered and then adopted by the Bennetts who are her best friend Victoria's parents. Although she is treated as part of the family, Taylor is afraid to hope for too much due to her sad childhood and sees herself as being "on the outside looking in".
The girls are both ardent fans of Louisa May Alcott and spend a lot of time at Orchard House, which was her family's home, where they attend the Jo March Writing Camp. Both girls are aspiring authors and I love the way they even have their own Pickwick Club.
Running parallel to Taylor and Victoria's story is that of Louisa and her friend Johanna Suhre. Johanna kept house for Louisa's parents while the author spent a year in Europe. This is another case where a young woman is longing to be independent, but also to belong.
We see the similarity between Taylor and Louisa with their attempts to help Victoria and Johanna respectively. We also see how researching Louisa and Johanna's story draws Taylor and Victoria together.
I like the way we are told so much about Louisa, her family and her writing. The author has obviously done a great deal of research into her life.
I am not going to tell you any more for fear of spoiling the read for you, excepting to say that, in spite of the difficulty of family dynamics, feelings of jealousy and inadequacy, betrayal and abusive relationships, there is a strong Christian message of hope running through the book.
I cannot recommend "The Orchard House" highly enough to anyone who enjoys inspirational historical romantic fiction.
I was given an ARC copy of the book by Tyndale House Publishers from NetGalley. The opinions in this review are completely my own.



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Wednesday, 12 August 2020

THE SHEPHERD'S WIFE by ANGELA HUNT

Publication date 6/10/20
THE SHEPHERD'S WIFE is the second novel in the Jerusalem Road series by ANGELA HUNT. This is a really beautiful series, giving us such insight into life in Bible days and a wonderful background to the simple, normal family life of our Saviour and King. Although the novel is a work of fiction this fact does not detract at all from the basic truths of the Word of God, which come through very strongly.
This is the story of Pheodora, who is portrayed as Yeshua's youngest sister. She is married to Chiram, a lowly shepherd, and lives happily with him and her four daughters in Bethlehem until her husband ends up in debtor's prison.
Her sister Damaris is beautiful. She is married to a very rich man, Shimon, whose ambition to become a Pharisee and refusal to help Chiram is a stumbling block in her relationship with her sister.
It is interesting to see the arrogance of the Pharisees and the complexity of their laws and rituals as opposed to the simplicity of Yeshua's teaching.
The author is very knowledgeable about biblical history, but it is her obvious faith in Christ and love of the Word of God that comes through strongly in her writing and really appeals to me.
I am not going to tell you any more of the story for fear of spoiling the read for you. All I can say is - do not miss this lovely and truly inspirational book!
I was given a free copy of the book by NetGalley from Bethany House Publishers.



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Tuesday, 11 August 2020

HER SECRET SONG by MARY CONNEALY

Publication date 6/10/20
How lovely to be back on Hope Mountain with the three delightful Nordegren sisters, this time as we follow the oldest sister Ursula's story! This series is one I have really enjoyed and I cannot recommend Her Secret Song strongly enough.
When Ursula finally gets up enough courage to leave her voluntary solitary existence to go down to the Lowlands, pushing aside the fear instilled in her by her grandmother, she comes across the badly injured Wax Mosby and literally prays and sings him back to life, as she helps him up to her cabin!
I love to see the innocence and gentle kindness in this rather unusual and fierce young woman and her strong faith in God, despite her confusion about the second bible! It is also good to see how Wax Mosby, who is feared as a killer, takes his new commitment to Christ seriously.
It is a story about courage, loneliness, overcoming fear, and in Wax Mosby's case, of doing the right thing. There are some really amusing parts, a sweet romance, and some nail biting tension when the Wardens are fighting to regain their land. It is altogether a most worthwhile read.
I was given a free copy of the book by NetGalley from Bethany House Publishers. 



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