Sunday, March 31, 2019

Fascinating! 'Of Fire and Lions' - by Mesu Andrews


About the book:

Survival. A Hebrew girl first tasted it when she escaped death nearly seventy years ago as the Babylonians ransacked Jerusalem and took their finest as captives. She thought she'd perfected in the many years amongst the Magoi and the idol worshippers, pretending with all the others in King Nebuchadnezzar's court. Now, as Daniel's wife and a septuagenarian matriarch, Belili thinks she's safe and she can live out her days in Babylon without fear--until the night Daniel is escorted to Belshazzar's palace to interpret mysterious handwriting on a wall. The Persian Army invades, and Bellili's tightly-wound secrets unfurl with the arrival of the conquering army. What will the reign of Darius mean for Daniel, a man who prays to Yahweh alone? 

Ultimately, Yahweh's sovereign hand guides Jerusalem's captives, and the frightened Hebrew girl is transformed into a confident woman, who realizes her need of the God who conquers both fire and lions.

My review:

This novel was fascinating as we see what life would have been like for the Jews taken as captives to Babylon and for a young girl trying to survive in a strange land.  I can't imagine how frustrating it would have been to not have any say in your future and to be at the whim of capricious kings.  I liked imagining Daniel's wife, if he had one, and what she might have been like.  I also liked the different times we see, from Belili as a young captive to her time years later in Babylon and Media.  It made the story even more interesting to jump around and see parts of her past.  Belili was a wonderful character, very strong and stubborn, sometimes speaking before she thinks.  She was very relatable.  I couldn't imagine going through all that she did and I could understand the choices she made and how hard it would have been to choose Yahweh instead of the easier way.  I liked Daniel a lot, too, and Mesu Andrews succeeded in making him more real   I tend to look at Bible heroes as almost perfect.  She made him a bit of a workaholic and I was also disappointed in something he failed to do; she also showed his fear when he knew he was going to the lions.  The scenes with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace and Daniel in the lion's den were amazing!  The faith element was wonderful as we really see Belili's faith get weaker and stronger depending on her circumstances until her trust in God grows and her faith isn't influenced by circumstances anymore.  There's also some suspense and some romance.  I would highly recommend this book if you like Biblical fiction.

I received this book from Waterbrook Multnomah.  I was not compensated for this review.  All opinions are my own.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Very Interesting! "American Omens: the Coming Fight for Faith" - by Travis Thrasher

About the book:

In this taut thriller that depicts a future where belief is dangerous, faith is deemed hatred, and a group of powerful elite keeps watch, the Reckoner has come to wake up America.

The year is 2038 and Cheyenne Burne is a brilliant young programmer working for Acatour, the world's top technology firm. Her father converts to Christianity, and he suddenly disappears without a trace. When a stranger hands Cheyenne a coded message that sends her on a collision course with a clandestine group of believers, she must put her life in the hands of those following a man known only as the Reckoner. He claims he wants to bring back true faith in Christ to America and also reveal the forces behind the disappearances of the many renowned people who publicly declared their Christian faith.
Operating in the shadows and living off the grid, this mysterious prophet assembles a ragtag team--including a former bookseller whose store was shut down for selling prohibited books--to help him take the battle for transparency to the top. With a ruthless FBI agent closing in, can Cheyenne and the others expose the truth and lead a return to God in America before it's too late?   

My review:

This was an interesting story about what the future of America could look like if the country keeps heading in the direction it's going, where the Christian faith is tolerated less and less and people are being monitored even more than they are now.  It was suspenseful as the story alternated between three viewpoints, one who was sent to find the man behind it all using any means necessary.  While I found this book interesting I thought it was going to be a little more exciting than it was.  It did have some action.  The story felt like it was building up to a grand event but was a bit of a letdown for me.  I found the characters interesting and I really related to Will, the bookstore owner because He was a man of faith but kept trying to do everything in his own power instead of talking to God and asking for His help.  He wanted to be in control of his own life and I can relate to that.  It's hard to let go sometimes.  The gospel was clear in the story and it was interesting that Cheyenne wasn't a Christian and didn't really understand faith or why her father would choose this life.  The story left some things open-ended so I wondered if there will be a sequel.  If you like futuristic stories you might like this one.

I received this book from Waterbrook Multnomah.  I was not compensated for this review.  All opinions are my own.       

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Saturday, March 9, 2019

Fascinating! "Within These Lines" - by Stephanie Morrill

About the book:

Evalina Cassano’s life in an Italian-American family living in San Francisco in 1941 is quiet and ordinary until she falls in love with Taichi Hamasaki, the son of Japanese immigrants. Despite the scandal it would cause and that inter-racial marriage is illegal in California, Evalina and Taichi vow they will find a way to be together. But anti-Japanese feelings erupt across the country after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and Taichi and his family are forced to give up their farm and move to a Japanese-American internment camp.

Degrading treatment makes life at Manzanar Relocation Center difficult. Taichi’s only connection to the outside world is treasured letters from Evalina. Feeling that the only action she can take to help Taichi is to speak out against injustice, Evalina becomes increasingly vocal at school and at home. Meanwhile, inside Manzanar, fighting between different Japanese-American factions arises. Taichi begins to doubt he will ever leave the camp alive.

With tensions running high and their freedom on the line, Evalina and Taichi must hold true to their ideals and believe in their love to make a way back to each other against unbelievable odds.

My review:

This was a wonderful, fascinating story I had a hard time putting down!  I didn't know very much about what Japanese-Americans went through during World War II, especially what living in internment camps would have been like.  It really opened my eyes to the hardships they endured and how terribly they were treated by the government and sometimes also by other people. It made me angry to see the injustice but fascinated with how Evalina and Taichi dealt with it.  I loved these characters!  Evalina was a wonderful person, full of passion and principles.  I loved how she stood up for what was right, even though sometimes she spoke before she thought.  And stubborn!  But definitely in a good way.  Taichi was such a sweet, respectful guy.  I liked his honesty, bravery and how much he cared about people.  They really had a lot to overcome and the story kept you guessing whether or not they would make it.  There was a little bit about faith such as church is mentioned and Evalina prays at different times for people.  The writing is great and I highly recommend this wonderful story!

I received this book from JustRead Tours.  This is my honest opinion. I was not compensated for this review.