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!

Someone Like You Victoria Bylin

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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.

 

The Magnolia Duchess by Beth White

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Amazon Link:  http://amzn.to/1TO1vOI

Beth White writes a story that is intriguing in its complexity.  She writes of a family in Florida that has no ties to England as the Revolutionary War moves forward. This is a family of brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts and uncles that will hold onto that familial bond through generations and separation.

Fiona lives in Florida with her Aunt, Uncle, cousin and brothers after her parent’s death.  She is close to her cousin Maddy who is a widow thanks to the war and to her very distant cousin Sehoy. Upon hearing the devastating news that her twin brother, has been taken as prisoner by the British Fiona is shocked to discover a British soldier washed upon the shore.  What is more shocking is this soldier is a childhood friend and secret love of hers.  What to do with a British soldier, friend or not, is a dilemma as ill feelings toward the British escalate.

Charlie has no memory of why is there and what he may have been sent to do.  Is he a British soldier with ties of allegiance or is he actually a spy. As the intrigue builds and the romances for three of the women in the family blossom where will they end up?

The war comes to their door with suspicions rising of happenings on each side, but this family will hold strong to their faith in God and in one another. Men and women will fight together to protect their home and each other.

The war and its intrigue fought in Florida with a family of mixed heritage…French, Creek, Spanish and African is a very interesting story.  Throw in spies, corrupt leaders, pirates and plain American spunk and your attention is caught. You will no doubt enjoy this book and the strong characters who will hold on to God and will do what they believe to be right when confronted with war.  The characters are written with depth to their personalities which add to the enjoyment of this book.  This is the third book in the Gulf Coast Chronicles.

 

 

Live Fearless An Adult Coloring Book by Margaret Feinberg

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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.