Like Flames in the Night {the ending of a beautiful series}

If the question was “Who has something exciting and uplifting to share today?” I’d be raising my hand, bouncing in my seat pleading Pick me! Pick me! And then this is what I’d share with you:

Renowned and award-winning author does it again! 

Then, after the cheering dies down, I’d tell you about how Connilyn Cossette – who I affectionately refer to as The Queen of Biblical Fiction – has published yet another fantastic book.

If you’ve been around Noveltea long, you’d know that I’ve talked about her books a lot. I started out by reviewing her Out from Egypt series, (Counted with the Stars, Shadow of the Stormand Wings of the Wind). Those books blew me away and left me wanting to read more, and like, right away, please!

Then the Cities of Refuge series began. I requested the first book and went into it completely blind, was shocked, amazed, and couldn’t wait to read more. During the last two years I’ve excitedly reviewed A Light on the Hill, Shelter of the Most High, Until the Mountians Falland now I’m exceedingly happy to get to share my thoughts on Like Flames in the Night – the final book in the series.

Also, you should all take a moment to look at the books together. They are so beautiful that I keep taking them off my color-coded bookshelves so I can just gaze at how seamlessly they go together.

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THE STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 380
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Release Date: March 3, 2020
Title: Like Flames in the Night
Fiction

ABOUT THE BOOK

Strong-willed Tirzah wants to join her people in driving the enemy from the land of Israel and undergoes training for a secret mission inside the stronghold of Shechem. But soon after she has infiltrated the ruthless Aramean commander’s kitchen, she makes a reckless decision that puts her and her allies in grave danger.

Fresh off the battlefield, Liyam returns home to discover his beloved daughter is dead. After his vow to hunt down her killer leads to months of fruitless pursuit, his last hope is in a family connection that comes with strings attached. Strings that force him to pose as a mercenary and rescue an infuriating woman who refuses to leave her mission uncompleted.

When an opportunity to pave a path to a Hebrew victory arises, can Tirzah convince Liyam to fight alongside her in the refuge city of her birth? Or will Liyam’s thirst for vengeance outweigh his duty to his people, his God, and the woman he’s come to love?

WHY I CHOOSE THIS BOOK

Um, yeah. I don’t think this needs further explanation. 😉

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WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

Books with espionage in them are my favorite. Stories with strong-willed girls who get themselves and others into danger aren’t really my cup of tea, but if said girl is fighting to keep up with a slew of older and successful brothers? Well, I can read those books all day long.

Tirzah is the youngest daughter of Moriyah, and little sister to a bevy of successful Hebrew spies – the lives of whom we’ve followed in the first three books in the Cities of Refuge series.

To begin with, Tirzah wasn’t a character I liked or related to – she seemed too set on proving herself to care about the safety of others. Then, partway through the book I began to see her character growth and maturity kicking in and I started cheering her on. Her character was so well-written, and her character-arch was played out beautifully. She felt real, flawed, strong, and yet weak at the same time.

Liyam drove me nuts. He, too, was written in a skillful way that made me want to yell at him to pull out of his pity-party and really see the world around him. When he took on the role of a mercenary I had no clue what to think. That part was written exceedingly well and left me cringing and horrified, while simultaneously amazed by how well the plot was climbing and dipping and twisting and turning.

The middle of the book was by far my favorite, although the plot continues to grow until the end where we have a beautifully wrapped-up series.

CONCLUSION {with slight spoilers}

Yeah. There’s a lot of content in this book that I wouldn’t deem to be exceedingly suitable for young teens. There’s a lot of talk of death, torture (although it doesn’t go into detail), and how the soldiers misuse the girls in the lands that they take captive.

I felt like it was written with care and is fine for anyone sixteen and older, but it does have sensitive content.

Overall, this is a beautiful story of following God’s leading even when it’s scary and having the courage to stand up even if it might cost you your life. It’s a delightful wrap to one of my favorite series.

Spoiler: While acting as a spy, Tirzah is scared for her safety multiple times, and as part of her cover ends up spending multiple nights in the same room as a guy – who everyone thinks is using her, although nothing actually happens. 

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RATING

I’m giving Like Flames in the Night 4 out of 5 stars. I’m incredibly thankful for the author sending me a book so I could share my thoughts with y’all. And now, you should really buy the book, or at least request it for your library.

Disappearing Church

THE STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 176
Publisher: Moody Publishers
Release Date: February 2, 2016
Title: Disappearing Church
Nonfiction

1

ABOUT THE BOOK

When church and culture look the same…

For the many Christians eager to prove we can be both holy and cool, cultural pressures are too much. We either compartmentalize our faith or drift from it altogether—into a world that’s so alluring.

Have you wondered lately:

  • Why does the Western church look so much like the world?
  • Why are so many of my friends leaving the faith?
  • How can we get back to our roots?

Disappearing Church will help you sort through concerns like these, guiding you in a thoughtful, faithful, and hopeful response. Weaving together art, history, and theology, pastor and cultural observer Mark Sayers reminds us that real growth happens when the church embraces its countercultural witness, not when it blends in.

It’s like Jesus said long ago, “If the salt loses its saltiness, it is no longer good for anything…”

WHY I CHOOSE THIS BOOK

When I moved from Ohio to Kentucky last year, besides leaving my family, the hardest part was leaving my church. It was a church that pulled together, worked together, and that I felt was making a difference in our little country community.

The next seven months were spent trying to figure out exactly what function church played in my life. I knew it was important. I knew I needed to go to church consistently. I knew the church I would end up staying at would be one the stood firmly on the authority of God’s Word. Other than that though, I had a lot of variables to consider and categorize in order of importance.

So, for the last few months, I’ve been thinking a lot about churches, having conversations (both with God and humans) about what place they should have in my life, and reading books and listening to sermons discussing the church.

Hence the reason I read this book.

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

The page number might be small, but the words pack a punch. I can generally read through a book fairly fast, but this volume doesn’t allow for skimming. There’s a lot of information in this book that I agree with and found myself nodding along with as I read.

Post-Christianity is not pre-Christianity; rather post-Christianity attempts to move beyond Christianity, whilst simultaneously feasting upon its fruit.

Post-Christian culture attempts to retain the solace of faith, whilst gutting it of the costs, commitments, and restraints that the gospel places upon the individual will. Post-Christianity intuitively yearns for the justice and shalom of the kingdom, whilst defending the reign of the individual will. Post-Christianity is Christianity emptied of its content. (Pages 15 & 16)

The author points out how churches need to be careful to make sure that in their fight for relevance they aren’t trading the truth of God’s Word for the draw of being like the culture. And I wholly agree. I don’t think the church should refuse to change, but it’s scary what direction a lot of the churches in America are heading in. We aren’t called to fit in. We’re called to be salt and light. When we trade our salt and light for numbers, then we have a problem.

There are also various claims made by the author that I’ve not studied, and therefore can’t adequately give my opinion on. The book did give me a lot to ponder, and I spent many mornings reading through it and challenging myself to re-think how I currently view the church compared to what God’s Word says.

CONCLUSION

The author asks a lot of questions, quotes a lot of people, and doesn’t shy away challenging the reader to re-think their stance on the church. It helped me better define what role church plays in my life, and I’m thankful for that.

RATING

I’m giving Disappearing Church 3 out of 5 stars. I’m so grateful for the generosity of the publisher for sending me a copy of this book so I could review it and share it with y’all.

Diamond in the Rough

If I was talking to you in person I’d be all dramatic and be like “Yo, human! It’s been basically forever since I wrote a book review – probably like 372 weeks.” But, since I’m blogging I’ll be a lot more professional and sound like an adult rather than, well, whatever weirdness that ^ sounded like.

So, I’ll just calmly state that I’m slightly amazed that I haven’t written a book review for nearly two months. The good news is I knew these last few months were going to be crazy, so I refrained from requesting books for review during that time. Therefore, I’m not behind. Well, except for the book that I’m about to review.

THE STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 352
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Release Date: September 3, 2019
Title: Diamond in the Rough
Fiction

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ABOUT THE BOOK

To save her family from financial ruin, Miss Poppy Garrison accepts an unusual proposition to participate in the New York social season in exchange for her grandmother settling a family loan that has unexpectedly come due. Ill-equipped to handle the intricacies of mingling within the New York Four Hundred, Poppy becomes embroiled in one hilarious fiasco after another, doomed to suffer a grand societal failure instead of being deemed the diamond of the first water her grandmother longs for her to become.

Reginald Blackburn, second son of a duke, has been forced to travel to America to help his cousin, Charles Wynn, Earl of Lonsdale, find an American heiress to wed in order to shore up his family estate that is in desperate need of funds. Reginald himself has no interest in finding an heiress to marry, but when Poppy’s grandmother asks him to give etiquette lessons to Poppy, he swiftly discovers he may be in for much more than he bargained for.

WHY I CHOOSE THIS BOOK
WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

“Oops, I probably shouldn’t have requested this book for review” was what I thought about the book.

My disclaimer is this: I’m not the target audience for this author, and therefore I’ll refrain from requesting more of her books for review in the future because I don’t feel like my reviews give a fair picture of her writing.

Miss Jen writes over-the-top, crazy instances that wouldn’t actually happen in real life, especially during the time periods that her books take place. Her characters are also generally fairly unrealistic. I understand that this is on purpose to create amusement in the reader and that’s great. I know it’s a talent to be able to write like Miss Jen does and she’s good at her job. It’s just not a style I enjoy.

The first half of this book was going to get a solid two stars from me, but then the second half of the story snagged my interest and I upped my rating to three stars. Once again though, this is completely subjective and has a lot more to do with me rather than the writing or plot.

CONCLUSION

My conclusion is that this review is going to be wholly unhelpful for y’all because I’m pretty much just saying the book wasn’t my style and so, therefore, it drove me slightly crazy to read it. But, that it’s not a reflection of the book itself. So helpful, right?

Really though, I’d be delighted to hear from you as to if you like this style of book?

do sometimes enjoy reading something along the lines of this story – mainly if I’ve had an incredibly busy and mind-numbing week, and I need to just relax. This book was very comparable to Hallmark movies.

RATING

I’m giving Diamond in the Rough 3 out of 5 stars. I’m thankful to Bethany House Publishers for giving me an e-copy so I could review it for y’all.

The Most Important Stories of the Bible?

It’s Thursday and the camels next door have been calling out to each other a lot this morning. (Who would have ever thought I’d start a blog post with that line?!?)

I’m so thankful to finally be catching up with book reviews. This is the last one I’ve had sitting here waiting for me to write, and I’m thrilled to be about ready to push the publish button. It’s also kinda exciting because last time I went home I picked up three more book packages from publishing companies to open, but I told myself I wouldn’t do anything with them until I was caught up on reviews.

I’ve had some exciting things happen at work recently that I look forward to sharing with y’all soon. Among other things Monday was my three month anniversary of moving to Kentucky. My original plan was to be here for three months, but… Well, that’s a story for another day. For now, here’s my book review. Have a great day, folks!

THE STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 190
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Release Date: July 2, 2019
Title: The Most Important Stories of the Bible
Nonfiction

4

ABOUT THE BOOK

Most of us are familiar with the exciting adventures of David and Goliath, Noah, or Daniel in the lions’ den, but we don’t always understand how they fit together. We lack context, and so we sometimes miss the point.

The Most Important Stories of the Bible will give you a working knowledge of the key events in Scripture and how they flow into one big story. The book’s 75 stories are compact, easy to read, and enjoyable. Each chapter includes a brief introduction that gives historical context to help you grasp the overall narrative of the Bible, and concludes with an explanation of why that story matters in our lives.

There’s a reason most of the Bible is made up of stories. They speak to us in a deep way, helping us internalize God’s message. And in the end, understanding the stories of God’s Word will help us connect more closely to Jesus, the greatest storyteller of all.

WHY I CHOOSE THIS BOOK

Plain and simple: Because I was curious.

I dislike it when people refer to Biblical accounts as stories (which in todays lingo brings to mind fiction, which the Bible obviously isn’t), so I nearly didn’t request the book. But then my desire to see what “stories” (aka, accounts) from the Bible were included in the book made me request it after all.

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

The book was a pleasant surprise to me. I think the title is a misnomer and not entirely true anyway, but other than that I only had a few minor disagreements with the book.

I think a better way of marketing the book would be to tout it as an overview of how the Bible works as a cohesive whole – and that’s kind of what is talked about on the back cover blurb.

The book is short, and the chapters only a couple pages long. Therefore, it was easy to sit down and take a few minutes to breeze through the book. I read it over the course of a couple of days and greatly enjoyed how one chapter flowed into the next – complete with a timeline, a paragraph about how the two accounts connected to each other, and a thought to ponder at the end of each segment. (Some of which I agreed with, some I didn’t…)

It was a bit confusing to me trying to figure out who the book was designed for – a Christian who understood the Bible? A new Christian trying to figure out what the Bible was all about? An unbeliever? There were times when I felt like the wording was a bit confusing for someone unfamiliar with the Bible, but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing because hopefully that would make them find an actual Bible to dig around in and get answers.

As someone who grew up reading the Bible, I really enjoyed the new perspective of how things fit together, as well as the way the authors told the accounts. They weren’t trying to quote the Bible word for word, so it was more the way that you would imagine someone sitting down and regaling you with an account in their own words. Because of that, I got to see the Bible through someone else’s perspective which was interesting.

CONCLUSION

There were a few places I disagreed with how they interpreted something from the Bible, but that’s not uncommon in books (or life). I probably won’t be re-reading the book, but I did enjoy the chance to get new perspectives on how everything flows together.

Also, obviously the title, but we already went over that.

RATING

I’m giving The Most Important Stories of the Bible 4 out of 5 stars. I’m thankful for the publisher for giving me a copy so I could review it here.

Across the Blue

It’s time for me to review some of the books I read while I was gone on vacation, and that’s kinda a lot of books because I read nine of them in ten days. What can I say? May is always one of my best-read months out of the year.

FIRST OFF, SOME STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 354
Publisher: Multnomah
Release Date: February 20, 2018
Title: Across the Blue
Fiction

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ABOUT THE BOOK

Isabella Grayson, the eldest daughter of a wealthy, English newspaper magnate, longs to become a journalist, but her parents don’t approve. They want her to marry well and help them gain a higher standing in society. After she writes an anonymous letter to the editor that impresses her father, her parents reluctantly agree she can write a series of articles about aviation and the race to fly across the English Channel, but only if she promises to accept a marriage proposal within the year.

When James Drake, an aspiring aviator, crashes his flying machine at the Grayson’s new estate, Bella is intrigued. James is determined to be the first to fly across the Channel and win the prize Mr. Grayson’s newspaper is offering. He hopes it will help him secure a government contract to build airplanes and redeem a terrible family secret. James wants to win Bella’s heart, but his background and lack of social standing make it unlikely her parents would approve. If he fails to achieve his dream, how will he win the love and respect he is seeking? Will Bella’s faith and support help him find the strength and courage he needs when unexpected events turn their world upside down?

WHY I CHOOSE THIS BOOK

I don’t think I even read the back cover copy to this book. I’ve just heard about it in the on-line bookish community and it sounded interesting and clean, so I thought I’d give it a go.

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

*Slight Spoilers in the Cons Section*

Three Pros: 
-The aviation aspect of the book was truly fascinating. It felt very well researched and I learned a lot without feeling like I was being pounded over the head with information. It’s amazing to think of how recently air-travel was something people only dreamed of. How in the world did we get from trying to fly across the English Channel to landing on the moon in such a short amount of time?
-Even though we didn’t get quite as much detail about the newspaper side in the book, that was still interesting to me. The glimpses we saw in the newspaper office, as well as watching Isabella’s emerging journalistic dreams was pretty cool.
-The pace of the book and writing style were both well-done and kept my interest most of the time.

Three Cons (With Slight Spoilers, so read at your own risk):
-It wasn’t really insta-love, but it was far too close to that for my enjoyment. Isabella has a secret she can’t tell anyone, and she feels guilty and like she’s betraying James not to tell him. She doesn’t owe James anything at this point, so even though feeling slightly bad makes sense, the amount of guilt she felt over it made me feel like she’d formed an emotional attachment to him way too fast.
-That said secret was cajoled out of her by someone else far too easily, and then she didn’t respond the way I hoped she would have.
-James’ family secret, and how it all ended kinda annoyed me, but that’s probably not the case for most people…

CONCLUSION

There were aspects of this book that I actually enjoyed far more than I had thought I would. The relationship was kinda meh in my opinion, but it was clean, so that’s a plus.

After reading this book I’d be open to reading more of Carrie Turansky’s books in the future.

RATING

I’m giving Across the Blue three out of five stars and am thankful for NetGalley giving me an e-copy so I could review it for y’all.

Celebrating Books with a Giveaway

Within These Lines release today! Therefore, we’re going to celebrate by chatting about the book and having a giveaway, because what’s more fun than a bookish giveaway? This post is going to contain my official review for the book, but it’s not going to be a normal review because this author is beyond that. I’m so thankful the author sent me an ARC copy of this book so I could share the joy with y’all!

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First off, let me tell you about the author. Stephanie Morrill started a fantastic blog for teen writers called Go Teen Writers. If you’re interested in writing at all – no matter how old you are – you should check it out. It’s full of honest, encouraging, practical, and ever-so-relevant writing advice. She’s also the author of a number of Young Adult books, ranging over several genres – contemporary, historical fiction, and even nonfiction. I also consider her my unofficial writing mentor, although I’m not sure she knows that since we’ve never met in person or even communicated in any way other than email. Pretty much she’s just an all-around amazing person with fantastic writing.

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And now, about the book. Within These Lines is about Evalina, an Italian-American, and Taichi, the son of Japanese immigrants. Life as they know it is disrupted when America enters WW2 and anti-Japanese feelings sweep across the country. Taichi and his family are forced to move to a Japanese-American internment camp where life is anything but a bed of roses. (Okay, maybe it’s a bed of roses, just the thorns part.)

This book is fantastically well-researched and superbly written as the author tackles the often untalked about subject of what America did with Japanese during the war. I remember the first time I was introduced to the subject of American internment camps I was horrified. This book does an amazing job of making the camps and situation come to life and wraps you up in the story until you feel like you’re right there in the drafty, crowded shacks with Taichi. Although it’s a very sad and unfair part of our country’s history, I think it’s important that we don’t bury and forget it, because history has a tendency to repeat itself.

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This book is real and gritty and sad without being hopeless – the author somehow hit a great balance with making the book exceedingly real while still being interesting and giving the readers the hope that better things are in store.

The characters are well-crafted and even though I didn’t like the way the handled certain things, they stayed very consistent to their character/personality. It was interesting to see how different cultures handled the various issues and troubles they faced. The author did an amazing job at creating a truly American/Japanese character in Taichi, vs. simply slapping a Japanese name onto an American character.

I gave Within These Lines four out of five stars and like it (and Miss Stephanie’s other books) so much that I wanted to share them with y’all. Sadly, I can’t actually host a giveaway with all of her books, but the winner will get to choose their choice of any of Miss Stephanie’s books. (A physical book for an address in the states, an ebook for international.)

A list of Miss Stephanie’s books:

Me, Just Different
Out With the In Crowd  
So Over It 
The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet
The Unlikely Debut of Ellie Sweet 
Go Teen Writers
The Lost Girl of Astor Street 
Within These Lines

Enter the Giveaway Here 

That’s it for today, folks! I hope your Tuesday is going delightfully well!

Two Historical Fiction Novels You Should Buy

One of the fun parts of getting to read books for review is having insider information to share with my online friends. Today is a day pays off particularly well. See, today is the release date for one of the best books I’ve read this year, and also exactly a month until the release date for one of my favorite books from last year.

First, the book that releases today.

Between Two Shores by Jocelyn Green.

This book takes place in Montreal during the 1750s and the main character is a half-Mohawk, half-French lady who runs a trading post for her not-so-nice father.

Y’all. This book had so much amazing information about the war that I’m pretty sure I’m going to need to read it again sometime super soon just so I can focus on more of the details. I’ll admit to having some air-headed moments where I completely forgot history and couldn’t remember how the war ended (aka, who won), and instead of looking it up, I kept reading with the suspense propelling me on.

There was a plot twist that I found to be completely unexpected. When I first read it I was like “Oh, well, okay….” and was kinda disappointed that it didn’t shock me more. But then I kept reading and was like “But, but, but, how could that have happened?” And I finished the book as fast as I could so I could shove it at my friend and beg (maybe demand?) she read it so we could discuss it.

I knew the outcome of that plot twist would determine my overall feelings of the book. If it worked out one way then the story would squeak by with barely three stars, but if it worked out another way I’d happily give it four solid stars.

Probably needless to say I gave the book four stars and right away set out on a quest to find some friends who don’t read a ton of fiction so I could give them all the spoilers and rant and rave and tell someone what happened. Because yes, the author did a great job of breaking the normal Christian Historical Fiction mold and surprising me as a reader.

So yeah. You should probably order the book right now or request it at your library.

Plus, ya know, the more you look at the cover the more details you see, and that’s pretty amazing. Way to go, Miss Jocelyn, on writing another fantastic book!

Between

Next off, the book that releases in exactly a month.

Within These Lines by Stephanie Morrill

Y’all. Historical Fiction is my favorite genre (no, really?), and I especially like it when an author tackles a time period or subject that isn’t really well known, especially in the fiction world. Miss Stephanie takes a well known time period (WW2) and then flips the idea over and presents us with a side of the war that isn’t often talked about.

Japanese Internment Camps in the USA.

It’s a subject a lot of Americans skim over or are completely unaware of, and yet it’s a real part of our history. Miss Stephanie masterfully weaves together a story of a Japanese boy and Italian girl and the prejudices, injustices, and mindset of the people during the 1940s.

When you read the book you’ll feel the dust of the camp. The scorn of onlookers. The helplessness of those left behind. You’ll disappear from 2019 and suddenly find yourself in a very different era as the details surround you and you make new friends, feel new heartache, and see the world through different eyes.

Within

To my surprise, there were several similarities between these two books, including the fact that they both deal with prejudices, trying to understand different cultures, and how to move forward when someone doesn’t do what you expected.

You can pre-order Miss Stephanie’s book here (which means it’ll be automatically sent to you a month from now and that’s pretty amazing). I already pre-ordered her book (back on June 23rd, the first day the cover went live on Amazon), and despite having an ARC copy of it, I’m so excited about the final version arriving in the mail.

And there you have it, folks, some insider information on two amazing books. I’d be delighted to know in the comments if you’ve read either of these two authors or if you plan on buying either of these fantastic books.

Currently
Setting: Walking on the treadmill (I walked nearly two miles while writing this)
Listening to: Spotify on shuffel 
Random Fact: We live in a valley so we often have fog 
Question of the Day: Do you like Historical Fiction?