A Passionate Hope: Hannah’s Story by Jill Eileen Smith

HANNAH'S STORY

I had started a few months ago by reviewing another series and still plan to continue with it but after a little detour.  I have two very wonderful authors who write in the Christian Fiction genre that have new books out, so I am excited about them and wanted to make sure I got my review posted as they are very newly published.

I am a confusing individual….  One moment I am reading MC Romance Fiction and the next Christian fiction followed by a textbook of some sort after.  I can never get enough to read or to learn.  I wonder if you are like that as well.  When I can add a fact or two in a discussion and people look at me in surprise and ask, “how in the world do you know that?”  I just laugh and tell them I read all kinds of books and you never know what I have stored away.  It can be priceless depending on the bit of information I put out there!

Why Christian Fiction?  I am a Christian who is always searching for something I have yet to put my finger on.  I want more, more, more but what is the more I am looking for?  I don’t know.  When I read I feel I am getting closer to knowing what that might be, but I am still not sure. It seems closer, but still too far away.  What I can say about reading fiction is that if I can find a lesson I need to give more thought to then I have found a wonderful author and story.  If that author can make me understand a Bible story that has been a little vague or make me see it in a whole new light with new possibilities, then I have found something worthwhile.

Jill Eileen Smith has done precisely that with her newest book, “A Passionate Hope: Hannah’s Story”.  When I heard this book was coming out, I wanted to read it, but I also didn’t.  Hannah’s story has always made me so sad and because of that, I kept thinking …. “No, I can’t, I’m not ready”.  Hannah was placed in such a sad situation.  She had married expecting to have children but didn’t and all believe she never would.  Then she was delivered of another blow.  Her husband took another wife and she would have to share him.  Could it get any worse for such a woman?  Yes, she received blow after blow of mocking and hatred from not only others but this second wife of her beloved husband’s who gave him the children she desired.  For years, Hannah pleaded for God to deliver her a child and then came the day in grief and desolation Hannah made a vow to God.  If he gave her the son she desperately wanted, she would give him back to God when he was old enough to leave her.  Hannah fulfills that vow to God.  Would I have had the strength to do so?  No…. simply no.

 

Jill Eileen Smith brings Hannah story alive and creates a beautiful story of love, acceptance, trust and ultimately forgiveness.  Hannah truly loves the Lord, and even after years of being barren, of being mocked, of feeling that she has lost her beloved husband, she still placed her trust in God.  We read of a woman who was kind even to her “enemy” the second wife of her husband who treated her so badly.  We read of a woman whose trust in God would be greatly rewarded.

But let me tell you what else we read…. we read of a husband who is pulled in so many directions that he cannot grasp what to do and the stress is heavy on his heart.  He loves Hannah as his beloved and it did not matter if she was barren or not for she is all he wanted.  However, his family intervenes and pushes him to take a second wife.  Elkanah is devastated but does as his family and even Hannah has asked of him.  He knows not what to do to bring peace in his family, and he hurts for the pain he knows Hannah hides.  His beloved is his heart and although he cares for his second wife and loves the children she gave him, he is not fully at peace.

We also read about the second wife and her view.  Her jealousy of Hannah, her love of Elkanah and the pain of feeling unwanted.  It was indeed an eye-opener to view Hannah’s nemesis in a different light. And there is one of the lessons…. what is behind the actions of others?

The dynamics of the family unit created by Elkanah and his two wives are shown by the author to have suspicion, jealousy, hatred, and so much pain. Through these dynamics and the ending, she provides, the author gives the reader some thoughts to dwell on.  A Christian will not help but think are we living up to the example Hannah set in her love of God?  Have we placed our complete trust in God as she did through the storms we face in our lives?

 

“A Passionate Hope: Hannah’s Story” is beautiful and one you will enjoy from the first to the last page.  I hope you give it chance and I would love to hear your comments and if you feel the same as I do.

Enjoy Hannah’s story!

 

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Wings of the Wind by Connilyn Cossette

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Wings of the Wind, book three in the Out of Egypt series by Connilyn Cossette is another amazing story by this author!  I have enjoyed everyone her books and each leaves me in a state of awe.

I am a true believer that if you read a story in which the author has you putting yourself in the place of the characters and thinking of their circumstances to gain a true sense of the author’s storyline, then you have found an author above the norm.  Each of the books in this series has accomplished that.

The writing style that Ms. Cossette uses is beautiful in how she develops her story’s and her characters.   For instance, the main female character in Wings of the Wind is Alanah, a Canaanite.  Alanah has lost everything…..her father, brothers, and her home to the war with the Hebrews.  When she makes the decision to fight as a man, she does so believing she will not see the next sunrise.  But Yahweh has plans for Alanah that she could not have expected.  Tobiah, a Hebrew warrior, finds Alanah on the battlefield and rescues her.  The Hebrew law is clear in the expectation that Tobiah will have to marry Alanah to protect her.  As Alanah learns the Hebrew ways she is confused by her own beliefs and those of Tobiah.  Ms. Cossette gives a wonderful look in to Alanah’s thoughts with this passage:

“If I submitted to this marriage, I was turning my back on everything I knew.”

Isn’t that what God asks us to do when we are reborn? To leave behind our lives of sin to live the life He has planned for us.  The character Alanah is shown to be under a great deal of stress and confusion as she begins the path Yehweh has set for her.  I think we can all relate to those feelings.

Beyond the use of characters and their circumstances, Ms. Cosstte had me really thinking on the issue of Manna.  The Bible tells the story in Exodus, of God providing Manna for his children who wandered the desert for 40 years.  I have read that story so many times, yet I don’t believe I gave it as much deliberation as I did when reading this story.  Ms. Cossette describes the character’s daily gathering of Manna, making meals, and strictly following Yehweh’s law regarding how much to gather.  For some of the characters eating the Manna became a hardship, a mundane habit that they couldn’t wait to be done with.  They had lost the heavenly quality of the Manna and looked upon it as if it was a chore or an expectation and not the awesome gift it was.  Alanah, with a fresh outlook and newly opened eyes looks upon the offering of Yehweh as it was meant to be… a gift that had no equal.  While reading of Alanah’s experiences, I couldn’t help but wonder what did Manna truly look and taste like.  I posted on Facebook and found my friend’s remarks interesting.  Some felt it was a substance similar to pita bread, others mentioned an earthy quality such as mushrooms and my Pastor’s wife being the funny woman she is said Chicken….after all everything taste like chicken! I have finally decided for me, I want to have Manna as one of my treasures stored away in Heaven waiting for me.  I want to try it so that I can answer my own question of what did Manna look and taste like.

Connilyn Cossette has given us a story that is full of interesting characters, some fictional from her own thoughts and then as with Rahab she weaves a larger picture to bring this Biblical woman into her storyline.  The story itself is spellbinding, encouraging, and thoughtful.  I have to admit that I am saddened to read that this will be the last in this series, but knowing Ms. Cossette has plans to bring a new story to life is heartening.  I cannot stress the how much I enjoy this writer’s evoking style.  As a reader, you can truly read how much Ms. Cossette has put into her story and the scope of dynamics brings so much to characters.  I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.  This is one series I believe is worth having on my shelf!

 

Amazon:   https://www.amazon.com/Wings-Wind-Out-Egypt-Book-ebook/dp/B01MUHIJOR/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1498347274&sr=8-1&keywords=wings+of+the+wind

Barnes & Nobel:   https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/wings-of-the-wind-connilyn-cossette/1124824750?ean=9780764218224

Christianbook.com:   https://www.christianbook.com/wings-of-the-wind-3/connilyn-cossette/9780764218224/pd/218224?event=ESRCG

 

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Shadow of the Storm by Connlyn Cossette

 

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Last year I read a new author of Christian Fiction and she totally amazed me.  Her story came alive from word to word on every page and more importantly her story made me stop and look inward to answer some hard questions about my personal relationship with God.  I can’t tell you how often pieces of that story came to me even months after I read it.  I couldn’t wait for the next book in her series to come out.  I knew what I expected from this author by this point and she didn’t disappoint.

Connilyn Cossette has published book two in the Out of Egypt Series, Shadow of the Storm.   This series is based upon the Exodus that God’s people experienced when they left Egypt and the slavery they were forced to endure at the hands of their Egyptian masters.  The characters that soon became loved and cherished in book one, Counted Among the Stars, are seen again as their lives continue to unravel from the old and become new with God’s help.  Counted Among the Stars was focused on the life of a young Egyptian girl, Kiya, who went from a pampered life to one of slavery alongside the Hebrews.  She was befriended by another slave, a Hebrew girl and through their friendship God was introduced to her. The story for book one, was central to her but we were introduced to Shira whose story is told in Shadow of the Storm.

Shira’s character is a young woman with a beautiful soul and heart for God.  She is kind, compassionate and giving to those she loves.  Connilyn Cossette brings us a young woman who is shown a life she wants as a midwife but Shira must consider her family and the livelihood that she is expected to follow.  Can she go against her Mother’s wishes? But her heart has been captured and with it a way to embrace even a part of the life she never thought she would have after an act of cruelty left her with little choice

Being a midwife isn’t the only dream Shira comes to hope for.  Shira comes to know her brother’s friend, Ayal.  A man, she believes to be honorable and caring.  She begins to trust him and hope for a future for the two of them only to have that come crashing down.   When events cause Shira to face some truths about Ayal it also forces her to face some decisions on what she wants.

Through the storms that invade her life, Shira must learn to trust in the Lord and understand that whatever may come, God will remain with her.  One of my favorite passages in the story that reflects the title and what life brings us:

“We have to endure the storms, dear one so we know how deep our roots go.  So we can appreciate the depths of our strength and the freshness of the gentle breezes afterward”

If you enjoy reading fictional stories that bring the Bible to life, this is an author you want to read.  Her characters are so real and their lives so completely dimensional that you are transfixed from beginning to end.  This is truly a wonderful and captivating story!

Chakana:Encounter in the Sacred Valley by W.E. Lawrence

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Chakana is sure to ignite a thrill seeking, page turning adventure for any history buff or Indiana Jones enthusiast.  A story that is very similar to the treasure seeking Indiana Jones in which the enemies are those of the Nazi regime and ruthless art smugglers.

Our hero is James Fleming a British spy trying to infiltrate the art smuggling ring near Peru in order to find how the Nazi are gaining treasure used to fund their movement.   While undercover James finds himself rescuing a young woman from his past…..one he owes his own life to.  She also happens to be the one he never forgot!

Kate Rhodes is a policewoman from Ohio who is suspended from the force just about the time she receives a mystery package from her brother, Nicholas Rhodes, who is leading an archeological dig in Peru.  Following her brothers directions, she takes the artifact to a local professor and friend, Dr. Charlie.  Kate and Dr. Charlie decide to go to Peru and when they get there they are soon immersed into the world of art smugglers and corrupt police. As Kate is being chased by the bad guys, she is rescued by a man that seems familiar and is shocked when his identity is revealed.

When James and his new allies (Kate, Nick and Dr. Charlie) decide to locate the lost treasure before the enemies get it, they never knew they would be challenged with such danger and intrigue from a society long dead.  As Kate and James follow the clues they find themselves wishing they could be together but knowing their lives are meant to go in different directions.  Knowing they must sacrifice their own dreams for the sake of thousands of lives, Kate and James race against time to find the treasure in order to keep the Nazi’s from winning.

I wasn’t sure what to expect exactly with this story as I have never read anything by this author. I was captivated by the adventure and quickly associated it with Indiana Jones but British style!  It was interesting to read such a strong female character from a male writer….points to the author!  I also noticed the author placed emphasis on the psychological issues for the characters.  By this I mean he explains the emotional reasoning behind some of the actions portrayed or perhaps those not taken.  The characters were all well done and enjoyed.  The story kept my attention until I finished the last page.  I am looking forward to reading more books by the author.

I received my copy through Netgalley in exchange for my review.

Amazon Link:   http://amzn.to/1R9Gec0

Counted With the Stars by Connilyn Cossette

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Other than Francine Rivers trilogy, The Mark of the Lion, I have not been drawn in to a Biblical historical fiction, as I have with Counted With the Stars, by Connilyn Cossette. When a writer weaves a story that makes me feel as if I am there with the characters, that I can imagine with vivid clarity the picture that the author is creating then I know I have a book that will remain with me long after the last page. When I have found a book that makes me think of my relationship with God because I see in these characters something that I wish I had and feel such a pull to find then I know I have found a writer,a book and a story that I will re-read many times over and will be in my thoughts for some time to come. Counted With the Stars is a story that fits all of this.

Kiya is a young Egyptian girl who is thrust into a world she had taken for granted all her life. When her father is financially destitute he sells her into slavery to a man she once considered a family friend, but will now serve his wife in defeat. Raised to worship the gods of Egypt she has no idea that the Hebrew God, Yahweh, has a plan for her that will take her from the lands of her birth, from her father and from the life she knows. When faced with slavery beneath those she considered her equals and living alongside those who where once beneath her, Kiya finds herself alone and not a part of either group. When a Hebrew slave girl, Shira befriends her, Kiya is exposed for the first time to Yahweh. Not ready to forsake her gods, Kiya is stricken with the same pain as the other Egyptians as Yahweh pours down his wrath with plague after plague. With the last plague set to fall upon them, Shefu, a man once her friend now her master, sets her on the path to follow the Hebrews while taking her Mother and handicapped brother with her. As she follows the Hebrews, she learns that she has been set upon this path not by Shefu but by the hand of Yahweh.

This amazing story will make you realize the power of God and how even in our lowest times, He will protect you, that he will love you and he will accept you. I love these characters and the journey they traveled. Shira’s story is due out in October and I am very excited to read it as well.

I truly recommend this book as one to read this year. It is a moving telling of those who experienced the Exodus in seeking their freedom from oppression and the ability to follow Yahweh. The story doesn’t focus on the kings or priests of Egypt, but that of the Hebrews and those Egyptians such as Kiya, her Mother Nailah, and her brother Jumo.

One of the last questions the author asks in her enclosed study guide is which characters you wish to know more about. My answer to that is see closure between Kiya and Shefu. Kiya found her answers with her Mother and Father, but there is a sadness that Shefu must live with and answers Kiya must know. This is of course my opinion, but my answer all the same to the author’s question.

 

 

Amazon Link:  http://amzn.to/208i3RM

Secret Medicines From Your Garden by

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Herbalism has been around for centuries with no indication that it will ever be a dying interest or way of life.  Through out those centuries those who used herbs were known by different names, but more common as “healer”.  Those who were misunderstood by their society’s time were at times called “witches”.  Regardless of the name, herbalism has been around and practice with healing naturally as its intent.

Herbalism can also have a central focus on spiritualism and the use of the herb to heal both the physical body and that of the mind.  Those who  come to mind for the most influential practice of this would be the Druids.  It is from this background of learning and living that the author has developed her book, Secret Medicines From Your Garden.  The author has extensive years involved in learning her art and shares a wealth of knowledge with the reader.

Secret Medicines From Your Garden is packed with information from recognizing plants based upon shape of stems, leaves and growing conditions to using those plants. One section of this book is broken down to individual plants and the growing seasons of Spring, Summer and Fall.  The plants and what portions are used are discussed along with a “recipe”.  Another section is recipes for various aliments and needs.  Throughout the book, the connection to the physical plant and a spiritual healing is linked.

Beyond the amazing discourse on the plants and their healing or home uses, Ellen Evert Hopman concentrates on sharing the spiritual or “magic” associated with these plants.  Having studied Druid and American Indian herbalism, Ms. Hopman strongly influences her book with the idea of healing body and mind with plants.  This is defiantly a way of life that is being introduced and explained to the reader.

Secret Medicines From Your Garden is worth reading if you are interested in herbalism.  As the subtitle, “Plants for Healing, Spirituality, & Magic”, states that is what this book is about.

Amazon Link: http://amzn.to/1sB4NLj

The Baron’s Destiny by author Elizabeth Rose

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This is the last book in the Barons of the Cinque Ports Series.  The series consisted of three books telling the stories of the Barons who served as the overseers of the Cinque Ports for the King of England.  In this book we read the story is about Lord John Montague who made appearances in each of the other two books.

Lord John Montague has a dilemma on his hands. He must marry and produce an heir by order of the King of England.  There is just one problem…he can’t find a bride.  When Lord John was 14 he was married for a day only and the circumstances of that marriage he has kept to himself.  When Lord John travels to France his life is changed in ways he never imagined.

Lady Celestine de Bar never forgot the betrayal of her husband Lord John Montague and how it cost her freedom.  Determined to change the course of her life, she finds Lord John and extracts a promise from him; A promise that Lord John gives with no intention of following through on.

Lord John and Lady Celestine are brought together by the actions of others and as they stand together through lies and betrayals they may find there is more at stake than they thought.  Lady Celestine must forgive Lord John while he must learn to trust her.

Elizabeth Rose has a style of writing that is quick to read and one that catches your attention and holds it.  I enjoy her characters and the historical quality that she uses to bring her stories together.  I also enjoy how she will give at least one of her characters an oddity of sorts that makes her stories entertaining.  While reading this story I was intrigued by the character of Lady Celestine’s cousin Hugh de Bar.  I was happy to read in the author’s closing comments that he does in fact get his own story, The Lady and the Wolf.  I also am hopeful that Claude will get his own story and Lady Celestine’s uncle will make additional appearances.

This is the last book in the Barons of the Cinque Ports Series.  The series consisted of three books telling the stories of the Barons who served as the overseers of the Cinque Ports for the King of England.  In this book we read the story is about Lord John Montague who made appearances in each of the other two books.

Lord John Montague has a dilemma on his hands. He must marry and produce an heir by order of the King of England.  There is just one problem…he can’t find a bride.  When Lord John was 14 he was married for a day only and the circumstances of that marriage he has kept to himself.  When Lord John travels to France his life is changed in ways he never imagined.

Lady Celestine de Bar never forgot the betrayal of her husband Lord John Montague and how it cost her freedom.  Determined to change the course of her life, she finds Lord John and extracts a promise from him; A promise that Lord John gives with no intention of following through on.

Lord John and Lady Celestine are brought together by the actions of others and as they stand together through lies and betrayals they may find there is more at stake than they thought.  Lady Celestine must forgive Lord John while he must learn to trust her.

Elizabeth Rose has a style of writing that is quick to read and one that catches your attention and holds it.  I enjoy her characters and the historical quality that she uses to bring her stories together.  I also enjoy how she will give at least one of her characters an oddity of sorts that makes her stories entertaining.  While reading this story I was intrigued by the character of Lady Celestine’s cousin Hugh de Bar.  I was happy to read in the author’s closing comments that he does in fact get his own story, The Lady and the Wolf.  I also am hopeful that Claude will get his own story and Lady Celestine’s uncle will make additional appearances.

Amazon Link:   http://amzn.to/1qxvyhP