Archive for the ‘historical’ Tag

Review of the Refuge by Ann Gabhart   Leave a comment

When Darcie and Walter Goodwin hear of a new cholera epidemic sweeping the area, they join the Shakers whose villages seem immune to the disease. It’s meant to be a temporary stay, but Walter is killed in a riverboat accident. With no family and no money, Darcie has little choice but to stay with the Shakers. To complicate matters, she is expecting a baby conceived before she and her husband came to the Shaker village. Marital relationships are considered sinful in this celibate community, putting Darcie in a unique–and lonely–position. Can the arrival of widower Flynn Keller and his headstrong daughter offer Darcie the hope of happiness . . . and family?

Ann H. Gabhart returns to the enigmatic world of the Shakers in this emotional exploration of the power of love and the bond of family.

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Darcie and William are fleeing a cholera epidemic and hope to escape the dreadful disease by taking shelter with the Shakers. When William is killed in an accident, Darcy is left alone in a community that forbids marriage and worse, is now pregnant—a visible sign as to the consequences of the ultimate “sin”. With nowhere to go and little money, she sees no other options left to her other than to stay with the Shakers and hope they have mercy on her.

Flynn Keller is still grieving for his wife and struggling to manage his headstrong daughter Leatrice who seems fixed on getting into mischief. After losing his wife because of that same impulsive behavior, he’s determined not to have his daughter killed because of some reckless act on her part. But he needs to give both of them a decent home to stay in and Leatrice needs to learn how to read and write. He doesn’t like it, but the Shakers are looking like the only people he can go to for help.

Honestly, the story turned out better than I expected. It was interesting to read about the Shaker community, even if you were left scratching your head as to how they could have accepted some weird thinking.
The characters Ann Gabhart introduced us to were solid and real. I liked the Shaker women who befriended Darcy, and it was wonderful to read how the birth and taking care of Darcy’s baby brought them even closer and softened the hearts of even the hardest person. A major point of the story is learning not to worry, to take each day as it comes and trust God to work it out, despite what the circumstances look like.

My only quibble is with the romance between the two main characters. I already suspected the author was going to rush it at the end when I reached the three-quarter mark in the book and there was still nothing going on. And then close to the end, a Shazam! is pulled. And you can guess the rest. 😛

While something more natural would have been preferred, this was still a great story to read and one I recommend if you’re looking for solid characters and writing, with a good plot that will keep you turning the pages.

Verdict: Definite buy.

(I received a free copy of the book from the publisher and author from the blogging program in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.)

 

Review of Judah’s Wife by Angela Hunt   Leave a comment

 

Seeking peace and safety after a hard childhood, Leah marries Judah, a strong and gentle man, and for the first time in her life Leah believes she can rest easily. But the land is ruled by Antiochus IV, descended from one of Alexander the Great’s generals, and when he issues a decree that all Jews are to conform to Syrian laws upon pain of death, devout Jews risk everything to follow the law of Moses.

Judah’s father resists the decree, igniting a war that will cost him his life. But before dying, he commands his son to pick up his sword and continue the fight–or bear responsibility for the obliteration of the land of Judah. Leah, who wants nothing but peace, struggles with her husband’s decision–what kind of God would destroy the peace she has sought for so long?

The miraculous story of the courageous Maccabees is told through the eyes of Judah’s wife, who learns that love requires courage . . . and sacrifice.

 

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After reading the first book in Angela Hunt’s Silent Years series, I waited with eager anticipation for the next in the series. In the second book of the Silent Years, Angela Hunt takes us back to the time of the Maccabees and their heroic struggle to follow their faith.

I had high hopes for this book, and initially it started out strong enough. Leah, the wife of Judah, has lived for years with an abusive father. So when she is offered in marriage to Judah, she hopes she can finally escape the violence that has plagued her entire life, and have peace. Judah proves to be nothing like her father, instead being a kind man willing to stand up for his family and faith. When events take a drastic turn, however, Leah struggles to love and trust Judah as he becomes the leader of the bloody revolt against Antiochus IV. Judah is a reluctant hero, a man forced into a role which he never asked for, but follows out of his desire to obey God and not repeat the mistakes of his ancestors. But in choosing to follow God’s lead, he risks losing the woman he loves.

Angela Hunt does a great job bringing her characters to life. Even secondary characters stand strong in the story. But there are some issues.

When it comes to the romance part, Hunt tends to skim over it. To her credit, she did a better job in this book than the last, but it still felt rushed and pushed aside to make room for the rest of the story. Mainly, the Maccabees’ struggle. Which brings me to another issue, and that is including too much history and not enough story. Angela Hunt’s goal is telling you the historical events of the Maccabees. That means fleshing out certain elements is going to be minimal, and that is how the interaction between Judah and Leah was. While there are pauses every now and then when she halts history to focus on the characters themselves and how events challenge them, she quickly moves on.

Leah, honestly, got on my nerves more than once. I understand when you live in an abusive household for your entire life, you can’t just open up and give love out. However, her mother is the one who takes the brunt of the abuse for her. Like 99% of it. Leah’s reaction? Scorn because her mother did not fight back or do anything. Zero gratitude for what her mother endured for her sake, until Judah’s mother pointed it out to her.

Next, she hated violence, so despite Judah being kind and gentle to her for several years, being a husband every woman would want to have, she becomes convinced he will start beating her once he becomes a warrior. So what does she do? Act like a spoiled brat and throw tantrums when she doesn’t get her own way. I actually felt sorry for Judah and what he had to put up with.

I won’t spoil the end for all of you. Suffice it to say that I already knew how it would end since I know the history of Judah. But the way Angela did it was so abrupt, you end up feeling very disappointed once you’ve finished the book.

I did like how Leah’s thoughts and perceptions of God grew. She doubts in the beginning as to whether God hears her prayers after the repeated violence she has seen in her home, and questions whether he really has a plan for her. Then slowly, she finally comprehends the destiny He has for her life and His love for her.

If we could have focused more on her and her relationship with Judah, the story would have been better (as well as some maturity on her part). As it is, while it starts out with a strong beginning, it loses pace pretty quick in favor of focusing on historical events over the characters and their relationship with each other.

Verdict: A semi-decent read that should please most enthusiasts of Biblical fiction, except those looking for more depth to a story and characters.

(I received a free copy of the book from the publisher and author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.)

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