Shadow of the Storm by Connlyn Cossette

 

shadow-of-the-storm

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!

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Someone Like You Victoria Bylin

someone likeyou

Amazon Link:  http://amzn.to/2b6otlo

 

I received this book from the publisher to review and I chose it because I had never read this author before.  I found this to be a light Christian romance that was easy to read and enjoy. 

The premise of the story is of two characters who first met while doing internships in college.  There was actually a triangle of relationships during this internship involving the two main characters and one important side character.  A few years later, our characters come full circle.

During college, Zeke Monroe worked at a refuge house because being a strong Christian he wanted to help others.  It was there that he met Julia Dare and Hunter Adams.  Neither Julia nor Hunter were Christians but Zeke had hoped to teach them of God’s love through their interactions.  Zeke fell in love with Julia and soon their relationship took on a level that didn’t mesh with his beliefs.  Not long after they parted and their lives changed.

Now as a general manager of a resort, Zeke is at odds with his Christian life.  He has lost his parents and no longer knows what to do.  He exists.  When the opportunity arises for him to come face to face with the one woman he gave his heart to and who hurt him, he finds himself realizing he still loves her even after all they had been through.  When he hears that Julia is now a Christian his emotions are turned around so he doesn’t know how to handle that news when his own spiritual life is bitterly in pieces.

With the resort’s future on the line, Zeke and Julia worked together to create the best wedding in 30 days to impress one of the owners to keep the resort open.  As they work alongside of each other, Zeke is tested with his lack Christianity and Julia’s newly discovered acceptance in God.  Julia is a Christian but she hasn’t always been and because of that she has made mistakes which has led to her carrying around a secret that she knows will hurt Zeke so she is scared to tell him.

Secrets will always come out whether by our own admittance or by another source.  Julia shares her secret with Zeke because that secret will be walking in the door of the resort and possibly ruin all the work they have done.  Zeke must face the past and decide if his love of Julia is enough to forgive and move forward.

This is a beautiful story of losing your way and finding it again through redemption, forgiveness and love.  Sometimes those who are the teachers will need to be the student in order to remember; which is where Zeke finds himself.

A wonderful developed story involving strong main characters struggling to find themselves with the help of some amazing secondary characters. 

A Bond of the Heart: A Sacred Bond Friends and Family Novella by Lee Tobin McClain

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Amazon Link:   http://amzn.to/29IVTTy

Shane MacQuaid was born rich but now he is homeless by choice. When his connection to childhood friends first introduces to him to God he quickly sees that his family isn’t what he wants. They have the riches and the corporate family business but he decides he doesn’t want it, so he enlists into the military.  When a bomb blast causes him physical harm with lasting repercussions he returns home to only once again leave when his family becomes oppressive and his future is unclear.

Dani Cooper is a sweet person who has issues with trusting too much to everyone else’s too little.  She has been married twice and left twice with children from each marriage.  Her older sister is the only family she has left in her home town and although Dani relies on her help she could do without her constant advice and criticism.

Shane rents the garage apartment from Dani while building a business as a local handyman.  He soon becomes a part of the community so that it feels like home and every day he falls a little more in love with Dani and her kids.  Just as he feels he is breaking through Dani’s self-imposed rules of not getting involved again, his interfering family shows up.  His sister in law has Dani’s sister believing him to be dangerous and deranged and his brother is trying to force him home for medical treatment and then to take over as CEO of his family’s business.  When Dani walks away Shane feels his life is falling apart just as he was putting it together.

The author has created a storyline in which God is central to these characters.  Shane’s character wasn’t exposed to God and his grace until he met the young men from the Sacred Bond Brotherhood.   It was through this friendship God is working with Shane and showing him that by following the plan God had for him that his life would be enriched.  Dani trusted God more than she did herself after her failed marriages and teen pregnancy.  With a leap of faith both of these two are brought together for a beautiful romance and a happily ever after with God leading them forward.  This is a wonderful story of sacrifice and trust with love as the ultimate prize.  I have always enjoyed the Sacred Bond Brotherhood men and how strong their faith is and was very happy to read this novella showcasing their friends and family. Truly heartwarming and recommended.

I received this ARC in exchange for my review.

 

Live Fearless An Adult Coloring Book by Margaret Feinberg

livefearless

Amazon Link:  http://amzn.to/1XSJaS6

One of the latest items on the market is the adult coloring book.   I admit I was skeptical. I am not an artist nor am I a child whom I assumed fit the model coloring book enthusiast. But when given the chance to review Live Fearless an adult coloring book by Margaret Feinbeg I decided to try it.  Something new to try, right?

My mail arrived and with it my package from Bethany House containing the coloring book.  I accepted my package from the postmaster but with a blasé attitude.  I wasn’t really giving it a chance was I?  My daughter asked if she could open it and I said of course, after all she is a kid and loves art so she would probably be ecstatic.  From the back seat I hear gushes of oohs and ahhs.

Once home I sat down with my newest acquisition.  I was impressed.  The coloring book wasn’t anything like I was expecting and it was extremely interesting.  I found the book to be devotional in nature but meant to relax and allow one to meditate more on the verse and spending time with God.  The left page is set up and titled, Pray & Reflect with a verse to spend your time contemplating and with an area for you to write your thoughts down.  The right page is the picture that you can spend your quiet time coloring and losing yourself in your thoughts.  The pictures are not simple but actually very detailed most likely to provide you with quality time to become immersed.  Once you are done coloring, and if you stayed within the lines, you may even want to hang some of your pictures as they are that nice in detail.

My first opinion of adult coloring books was wrong and judgmental.  Had I not been given this copy from the publisher then I most likely would have continued on it that thinking.  Now that I have tried it, I did learn of relaxing benefits but more importantly I learned not to judge a book by its cover!  I believe I would find myself purchasing another of these journaling coloring books.

Counted With the Stars by Connilyn Cossette

counted with the stars

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

Christian Living Inspiration

I like to read most every type of genre out there….Ok I don’t like blood and gore except in action movies so I don’t read that.  I do like to sleep at night and reading those just doesn’t work for me! As long as I can find something of interest in the summary you can pretty much bet that I will try reading it.  One of the genres I do love to read is Christian mail order brides, so it happens that I also read inspirational for Christian living.  Through Netgalley I received two such books and decided to blog about them together since both have to do with reading the Bible.  One offers insight into the book of Proverbs and the other the chronological reading order of the New Testament. Yes, I do read my Bible as well as all these other books and having some helpful instruction in these areas is always welcomed…it saves my Pastor from hearing question after question… sometimes!

The first of these books is titled: “2 Minutes in the Bible Through Proverbs” by Boyd Bailey.

Publication Date: August 1, 2015 Publisher: Harvest House Publishers 192 pages

Publication Date:
August 1, 2015
Publisher:
Harvest House Publishers
192 pages

Boyd Baily certainly has created a great reference for Christian living. I like that he used six different Bibles for his quotations instead of remaining with only one Bible and its wording.  A Bible translation is what makes understanding the message easier for people.  I personally drift away from the King James Version because I just can’t understand it as well, but I do know others that thrive with it.  Having the various translations opens the doors of understanding God’s word much easier for the reader.  I was also encouraged by the related readings each section offered.  Not only were there discussions on each topic but a list of four or more related passages within the Bible were provided to further explore.  The topic ranges were vast showing that the Proverb passages were not just taken for their immediate meaning but torn apart and shown how it can apply to daily living today.  For instance, Mr. Baily wrote on Marriage and used his related passages and the Proverb verse to assist diving into this subject.  Then we read about midlife crisis and more passages are brought to our attention.  I like that we were given material that makes us really think about what we’re reading and then we think of our own lives and how it fits.   I really enjoyed this source of meditating on the book of Proverbs and how it relates to our daily lives.

Amazon Link: http://amzn.to/1TQx7z0

The second book I received was titled,”90 Days Through the New Testament in Chronological Order” by author Ron Rhodes.

Publication Date: September 1, 2015 Publisher: Harvest House Publisher 402 Pages

Publication Date:
September 1, 2015
Publisher:
Harvest House Publisher
402 Pages

Mr. Rhodes begins by giving some background to the New Testament.  He teaches of the number of books held within, the authors, the four books of the gospel and the books that follow them.  He closes his introduction with a look at the book of Revelations. There is a wealth of information contained in these introductions.  After reading Mr. Rhodes’ book I do have a better sense of how difficult it is for an author or scholar to place the events of the Bible in chronological order.  Mr. Rhodes provides and discusses what those difficulties are and how he sees the approach to combat them. What you will find in each chapter is an extensive devotion that will make you think,read and learn.  The chapters have introduction material, overviews, insightful thoughts, chapter themes, application lessons and more.  I felt this was more of Bible study lesson than a daily devotion. There was a lot covered with each day, and very in depth, but given the amount that needed to be discussed regarding the whole New Testament I can understand.  If you really want to learn more about the New Testament than what your basic knowledge may be, I highly suggest this book.  Very informative and well worth the time.

Amazon Link:     http://amzn.to/1VfbRrH

If you are looking for inspirational thoughts either of these or both would be fantastic reads.    One has more depth than the other but each will provide you with a source of meditation and application for daily living. My guess is that there will be a lot of information that you may not have heard before.

I hope you will enjoy these books as much as I did.