The Queen of Biblical Fiction

People. It’s basically been forever and a day since I’ve posted a book review on Noveltea. Today I’m emerging from the depths of silence to share a total gem of a story with y’all…this author that I’m about to talk about – goodness, where do I even begin?

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Her worldbuilding is so utterly fantastic it makes the world dance into my brain and captivate me.
Her characters are complete and real.
Her plots nearly always have twists I hadn’t expected.
Her writing is lyrical and magical, weaving the story in a way that makes me long to always have a supply of her new books on hand.

Her name is Connilyn Cossette and I personally consider her the Queen of Biblical fiction. 

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If you want to hear more of my gushing about her, there are ample opportunities. You can watch me chatter about all five of Miss Connilyn’s books, or specifically about her newest book (that I’ll be reviewing below). Or you can check out my reviews of her first four books. (Because goodness children! Somehow I was given the honor and privilege of reviewing each of her books as they came out. How did this happen?!?)

Read the reviews here:
Counted With the Stars
Shadow of the Storm
Wings of the Wind
A Light On the Hill 

And now on to the review for today. We’ll be talking about her latest book, Shelter of the Most High. Really, you should just pause your reading right here and now to check out one of her books at the library or perhaps just buy it on Amazon. Then you can continue reading while waiting for it to arrive. 😉

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First off, Some Stats:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 352
Rating on Amazon: 4.8 out of 5 Stars (88 Reviews)
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Release Date: October 2, 2018
Series: Yes (this is book two)

Back Cover Blurb:

The daughter of a pagan high priest, Sofea finds solace from her troubles in the freedom of the ocean. But when marauders attack her village on the island of Sicily, she and her cousin are taken across the sea to the shores of Canaan.

Eitan has lived in Kedesh, a City of Refuge, for the last eleven years, haunted by a tragedy in his childhood and chafing at the boundaries placed on him. He is immediately captivated by Sofea, but revealing his most guarded secret could mean drawing her into the danger of his past.

As threats from outside the walls loom and traitors are uncovered within, Sofea and Eitan are plunged into the midst of a murder plot. Will they break free from the shackles of the past in time to uncover the betrayal and save their lives and the lives of those they love?

Why I Choose This Book:

I can’t imagine ever not wanting to read Miss Connilyn’s books. Seriously. Every time I get chosen to be part of the release team I do a happy dance inside. But even if I wasn’t chosen? Well, I’d totally pre-order the book.

What I Thought of This Book:

Growing up with the Bible I obviously knew what the Cities of Refuge were. But did I ever think about them? Sit down and ponder them? Research them? No. Somehow that crazy bit of history just flew past my brain and never captivated my imagination until I began this series by Miss Connilyn.

Like with the rest of her books Miss Connilyn took an account from the Bible, researched it, imagined it, wrote about it, and brought it totally to life in the pages of her book. Now when I read the Old Testament I feel more depth – the people feel more alive to me and in a way I can almost relate to them better. This, my friends, is what good Biblical fiction does. It doesn’t disagree with the Bible, instead, it just adds details that could have happened, and with those details the world from that era bursts into colors and sights and sounds and smells. It’s rather glorious.

Technically this book can be read as a standalone. It gives enough information from the previous book that you can gather what’s going on. But really, I really recommend reading A Light On The Hill first, because after reading this book you’ll want to read that book, and this book kinda spoils the first one.

As for the plot itself, this was the first time when I really felt like I could guess what was going to happen and for the most part, I was right. With Miss Connilyn’s books, there are generally fairly big plot twists for me, but this time that didn’t happen. I’m not sure if it’s because the plot twists were less hidden or because I’m used to her writing style by now, but in any case, not being surprised really didn’t take away from the book so that’s cool.

The characters didn’t resonate with me this time like they sometimes do, but I still liked them and enjoyed learning along with them. My favorite part was getting to see everything from Sofea’s perspective. Her thoughts and the way she described the world around her made me want to hug the book and read it over and over again. It was nothing short of lyrical and whimsical. So well done.

Conclusion:

There’s some violence in the book although it doesn’t go into extreme detail. There’s mention of evil pagan practices, a destroyed village, people wanting to get revenge, and then some deaths that go along with living in a City of Refuge. I thought that it was written in a mild enough manner that it’s suitable for ages 15+ (although I guess that depends a lot on the person).

As for romance there was kissing much earlier in the book than I was expecting, but overall it wasn’t bad and I don’t recall having to skim-read much like I generally do when books get overly romantic. 😉

Rating:

I’m giving Shelter of the Most High 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it to anyone who likes Biblical fiction or wants to give the genre a try.

I’m so thankful for Miss Connilyn for giving me a book in exchange for reviewing it. She rocks, y’all.

And, I’m Back {Aka, Finding My New Normal}

Y’all. Today. Today is the most perfect of all perfect autumn days. And I might gush about that a little in the video before I get down to business which is: reviewing one of the coolest books ever.

Do you see a trend of amazingness here? Yeah, life is pretty good. 😉

The last six months have been some of the craziest I’ve ever seen, and my delightful little sphere here on the internet has suffered as a result. But guess what? The craziness has abated, at least for a bit, and I’m so excited about jumping back into writing and blogging and finding a new normal.

Autumn has this fantastic way of making me feel more alive and ready to embrace life than any other season, and autumn is currently in full swing over here. This morning I’m sitting by my open window wrapped up in a cozy sweater with hedgehog socks on, drinking deliciously strong coffee from a “My Weekend is All Booked” mug while listening to The Greatest Showman soundtrack. (Yeah, as I said, life is pretty amazing.)

What have you been up to recently? I’d be delighted to connect with y’all again. ❤

One of My Most Anticipated Reads of the Year – A Light on the Hill {Book Review and Happiness}

A Light On The Hill

by Connilyn Cossette

Find it on:

Amazon
Goodreads 

Third Person • Fiction • 336 Pages

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Back Cover Blurb:

Seven years ago, Moriyah was taken captive in Jericho and branded with the mark of the Canaanite gods. Now the Israelites are experiencing peace in their new land, but Moriyah has yet to find her own peace. Because of the shameful mark on her face, she hides behind her veil at all times and the disdain of the townspeople keeps her from socializing. And marriage prospects were out of the question . . . until now.

Her father has found someone to marry her, and she hopes to use her love of cooking to impress the man and his motherless sons. But when things go horribly wrong, Moriyah is forced to flee. Seeking safety at one of the newly-established Levitical cities of refuge, she is wildly unprepared for the dangers she will face, and the enemies–and unexpected allies–she will encounter on her way.

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Why I Choose This Book:

Folks. Miss Connilyn’s writing is amazing. Goodness, y’all. Her Biblical fiction has drawn me in from the very first page every single time. When her last trilogy ended I was really sad because I REALLY wanted there to be a fourth book that featured one of the characters from the third book in the trilogy. Therefore, when I saw she had another series going, I jumped at the chance to be one of the earlier reviewers. I decided to go into the book totally blind – not even allowing myself to read the back cover before diving in. (And when you see the blurb floating around on the internet it’s hard to resist!)

You can watch me unboxing the book here

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What I Thought:

I may or may not have squealed and grabbed the arm of the person next to me out of pure joy when I read the first paragraph and realized that ALOTH (A Light on the Hill) featured the exact character I wanted. Moriyah was just a girl of 13 in the last book of Miss Connilyn’s, but now she’s all grown up and a far cry from the confident person I remember from her youth.

The writing is beautiful – the descriptions whisked me away into the Promise Land and plopped me there with such force I didn’t want to leave. I’ve traveled a lot in life, but this book makes me want to travel even more. Reading about walking through the vineyards was the next best thing to actually doing it, but now that I’ve read the book, I want to go and experience it for myself. The details of all the Middle Eastern food were so delightful and made me so hungry for it that I made my family stuffed grape leaves, lentil soup, and za’atar bread for supper one night. It was delicious and made Moriyah’s world come alive so much more to me.

As far as the storyline itself goes, I enjoyed it. There were twists and turns and things I hadn’t expected. (Going into the book blind really helped with that.) Previously I’d read there were some pretty great plot twists in the book, but when I asked a friend of mine who was reading the book, she just kinda shrugged the question off. Therefore, when I got to the major plot twist, I was mind-blown. As in, I went and found people who I knew wouldn’t be reading the book and sat down and told them all about it because I had to share it with someone. It was amazing and unexpected, and at first, I couldn’t hardly imagine it had actually really happened.

For some reason, I enjoyed the first half of the book a lot more than the second. I’m not sure why that is, except there was a little more romance in the second half, and sometimes that annoys me slightly. (In all books – not just this one.) The first half of the book was a five-star read, which for me is VERY unusual, and the second half mellowed the book down to four stars. I have a feeling though that most people would enjoy the second half just as much as the first.

Now I can’t hardly wait for the next book in the series. Miss Connilyn’s books always make the Bible feel more alive to me, and this book was no exception. Her research is fantastic and makes me want to do researching of my own. Her details are superb and craft style remarkable.

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Conclusion:

Y’all, I have a feeling I should probably end this review before I write an entire book myself. Overall it was a clean book. At the same time though, there are mentions of the various Canaanite cities that were still around during the book of Joshua and the immorality that went on in them, temple prostitutes (never going into detail), and a small amount of violence. There’s also a fair amount of time when an unmarried man and woman travel alone together – it’s out of necessity and nothing happens, but I do wish that wasn’t as common of an element in books like this…

Stay tuned, y’all, for an author interview coming up later on this month!

Rating:

I’m giving The Light On the Hill 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it to anyone who has ever read Biblical fiction – or if you haven’t read it and have thought about giving it a try.

*The author gave me a book so I could review it, but I would have found or bought a copy somewhere if she hadn’t 😉

*All of the picture quotes I got off of Miss Connilyn’s Facebook page.

A Delightful Conclusion to a Trilogy – Wings of the Wind Book Review

Wings of the Wind
By: Connilyn Cossette

Find it on:

Amazon

Goodreads 

First Person • Fiction • Two POV • 346 Pages

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About the Book (Backcover Blurb):

Alanah, a Canaanite, is no stranger to fighting and survival. When her family is killed in battle with the Hebrews, she disguises herself and sneaks onto the battlefield to avenge her family. The one thing she never counted on was surviving.

Tobiah, a Hebrew warrior, is shocked to find an unconscious, wounded woman among the Canaanite casualties. Compelled to bring her to a Hebrew healer back at their camp, he is soon confronted with a truth he can’t ignore: the only way to protect this enemy is to marry her.

Unused to being weak and vulnerable, Alanah submits to the marriage–for now. As she comes to know and respect Tobiah and his people, however, she begins to second-guess her plans of escape. But when her past has painfully unanticipated consequences, the tentative peace she’s found with Tobiah, the Hebrews, and Yahweh is shaken to the core. Can Alanah’s fierce heart and strength withstand the ensuing threats to her life and all she’s come to love?


Why I Choose this Book:

I read the first two books in the series, Counted with the Stars and Shadow of the Storm, and was blown away by how they helped make the Old Testament spring to life for me. Therefore I knew even without reading the back blurb for Wings of the Wind that I wanted to finish up the trilogy so I could once again dive into the world building Miss Connilyn is so fantastic talented with.

(You can see me opening the package with Wings of Wonder here.) 

What I Thought about this Book:

The first page of the book drew me in right away and made me ask about a dozen questions and want to keep reading, reading, reading. (This is significant considering I just had my wisdom teeth removed, and it was a bit hard to focus on reading – or anything really.)

Unfortunately the first half of the book, while being well written, left me a little disappointed. There was too much romance for my tastes, and it annoyed me how the characters acted in different situations. The first half of the book still made a solid three stars, although I’m not sure what my conclusion would have been if there hadn’t been the plot twist. But, the plot twist came and instantly hiked the second half of the book up to four stars.

Within a couple of paragraphs I suddenly felt so much more invested in the character’s journeys, pages were being rapidly turned, and I could hardly wait to figure out what was going to happen next. There’s a young girl (like 13), who’s one of the side characters, and she was delightful. I seriously wished she would have been the main character of book #4, and was legit disappointed when I realized the Out of Egypt series was over.

Possibly because of being out of it due to my wisdom teeth, but I didn’t realize how the story tied in with a real person from the Bible until just about a paragraph before she was introduced. Then I was like “OH MY LANDS!” and it was a cool moment when everything came together.

Miss Connilyn did a great job of talking about the horribleness of the world at that time, without going into too much detail. To me she found a very good balance between saying “Yeah, these people were heathens and God was punishing them” and not glorifying that wickedness. With that being said, she did allude quite often to the sinful ways of the people of that land, but to me it’s important for us not to forget what it was like during the Biblical days.

Several of the characters were really well developed, and I could see a good arch as they grew throughout the book. By the end of the book I was quite attached to several of the characters, even though I hadn’t thought I’d be at the beginning of the story.

There was also a lot of good faith content, with the main character, a Canaanite, learning about God, and how He is different from the horrible, vengeful God’s she grew up serving. Seeing the difference was amazing.

Conclusion:

There was, as previously mentioned, too much romance in the first part of the book for my tastes, although it didn’t go into a lot of details. There were also multiple battle scenes, people dying, people being attacked, people being mistreated, talk about how the Canaanites treated women (including wives) like slaves, discussions (and even some characters) who were temple prostitute,  and pretty much just the Bible times displayed in a realistic, come-to-life way.

Rating:

I’m giving Wings of Wonder 4 out of 5 stars, and 8 out of 10.

*I received this book from Bethany House Publishers