Archive for the ‘Revell Reads’ Tag

Review of Miriam’s Song by Jill Eileen Smith   Leave a comment

In her eventful lifetime, Miriam was many things to many people: protective older sister, song leader, prophetess, leper. But between the highs and the lows, she was a girl who dreamed of freedom, a woman who longed for love, a leader who made mistakes, and a friend who valued connection. She navigated the challenges of holding on to hope, building a family in the midst of incredible hardship, and serving as a leader of a difficult people, all while living in her brother’s shadow. Follow Miriam’s journey from childhood to motherhood, obscurity to notoriety, and yearning to fulfillment as she learns that what God promises He provides–in His own perfect timing.
***

I am a huge fan of Jill Eileen Smith’s work, so I make it a point to try to collect all her books. When I saw Miriam’s Song, there wasn’t any hesitation on my part to request the title. We all know the story of Moses, how he was placed in a basket and sent over the Nile to save his life, raised as prince of Egypt, fled to the wilderness, and then sent by God to deliver Egypt. But what were things like from the eyes of Miriam, his sister?

There really isn’t a lot in the Bible on Miriam, other than she was a prophetess and then later condemning Moses for marrying a woman from Cush before getting punished by God with leprosy. So I have to take my hat off to Mrs. Smith for being able to create an entire story with little to work with.

I have to say this is one of her weaker novels which I warrant to the limited amount of info she had to work with. The beginning started out great, with us being treated to the perspective of Hatshepsut, the Egyptian princess who would become Moses’s adoptive mother.

Then on to our main protagonist Miriam as she tries to help her family hide Moses and has to take on a lot of responsibility early in life. Which grows even more as she gets older and starts her own family.

But then we start having time gaps. Sometimes it’s months, then years, and even decades. Mrs. Smith tries to cover the entire story of Exodus, so we end up speed-traveling through the novel. Adding to the problem is that a large portion of the book is actually from the perspective of Moses. His character is probably the most developed, and therefore, also the most interesting. When we do get back to Miriam, all she can do is worry and obsess over Moses.

Despite all that, there’s still several strong points in the story I enjoyed. Miriam loves her family and God, and she does all she can to encourage the women around her to follow Him, in spite of the distrust and resentment some of the Israelite women have towards her because they think she and her family are privileged. She feels discouragement wondering if God has forgotten about them and if His promises would ever come true. And then even her relationship with God is put to the test as she sees Moses bask in His presence more and wonders why Moses is being so privileged while she is forgotten.

Final verdict: Buy if you’re looking for a decent read.

(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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Review of Out of Embers by Amanda Cabot   Leave a comment

 

Ten years after her parents were killed, Evelyn Radcliffe is once more homeless. The orphanage that was her refuge and later her workplace has burned to the ground, and only she and a young orphan girl have escaped. Convinced this must be related to her parents’ murders, Evelyn flees with the girl to Mesquite Springs in the Texas Hill Country and finds refuge in the home of Wyatt Clark, a talented horse rancher whose plans don’t include a family of his own.

At first, Evelyn is a distraction. But when it becomes clear that trouble has followed her to Mesquite Springs, she becomes a full-blown disruption. Can Wyatt keep her safe from the man who wants her dead? And will his own plans become collateral damage?

Suspenseful and sweetly romantic, Out of the Embers is the first in a new series that invites you to the Texas Hill Country in the 1850s, when the West was wild, the men were noble, and the women were strong.

***

 

A haunted orphan on the run, a desperate killer willing to murder whoever stands in his way, and a charming rancher who wants to follow his own dreams but stays to take care of his family. Sounded good to me, and something that set it apart from the usual Western romance. The beginning started out strong enough. Evelyn has always felt like a watcher has been monitoring her movements. When the orphanage she’s been living at for 10 years is mysteriously burned down and all its inhabitants with it, she knows her past has finally caught up with her. She flees with Polly, the only orphan to escape the carnage because she was with her. They travel to the quaint town of Mesquite Springs where during a thunderstorm, they are found by a handsome rancher, Wyatt Clark.

For me, I kept looking for the story to pick up in some way. If not with the plot, at least some more interesting character interaction. But it’s very brief and any character conflicts are swiftly resolved. We had an interesting one going with Sam, a lawyer who is Wyatt’s friend, and determined to have his own way no matter what. After building up on this, though, things are swiftly resolved within a page and a half, roughly. Once we finish meandering through the rest of the story, the author decides to throw in a hasty confrontation with the villain and poof! All done, and you’re left feeling like you missed something.

For characters, they’re solid, no complaints there. Polly, Evelyn’s six year old companion, I confess annoyed me tremendously. I’ve always thought that if you’re an orphan and someone is going out of their way to take care of you, show a little respect. This one shows zero, and alternates between being a cute girl to a spoiled little runt you just want to squash (I know that sounds violent :P).

The romance is bland, and the standard insta-attraction that morphs into love. Nothing memorable, or what would tug at my heartstrings.
For the moral message, I was a little bit disgusted with how it was portrayed. One of the themes at the beginning is to abstain from lying. Evelyn, however, in a strange town and believing that the person who murdered her parents just destroyed an orphanage with a bunch of innocent children, decides to change her last name and lie about her past to avoid drawing attention and alerting whoever might be stalking her. This is somehow still wrong.

I appreciated the scene where the characters pray for healing and God answers. But what deflated it for me was “well God, we know you don’t heal everyone, so if it be your will…” Wow, that’s a load of faith. I was almost shocked the prayer even got answered.

So personal feelings aside on some of the scenes, the story is charming enough on its own. If you’re looking for a lighthearted romance with just a touch of suspense, you won’t be disappointed. As for something truly moving, or even eliciting that warm feeling inside that you get when you read some books, I can’t say you’ll get that with this book. At least I didn’t, anyway.

Verdict: Pass, unless you’re looking for a slow read.

(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 The Land Beneath Us by Sarah Sundin   Leave a comment

 

In 1943, Private Clay Paxton trains hard with the US Army Rangers at Camp Forrest, Tennessee, determined to do his best in the upcoming Allied invasion of France. With his future stolen by his brothers’ betrayal, Clay has only one thing to live for–fulfilling the recurring dream of his death.

Leah Jones works as a librarian at Camp Forrest, longing to rise above her orphanage upbringing and belong to the community, even as she uses her spare time to search for her real family–the baby sisters she was separated from so long ago.

After Clay saves Leah’s life from a brutal attack, he saves her virtue with a marriage of convenience. When he ships out to train in England for D-day, their letters bind them together over the distance. But can a love strong enough to overcome death grow between them before Clay’s recurring dream comes true?

***

After reading The Land Beneath Us by Sarah Sundin, I can say with all surety that I’ll definitely be grabbing the rest of the series now, especially since I found out the other two books help with backstory of the third Paxton brother. Despite starting at the third book, it stands quite well on its own.

Forgiveness and learning to accept the value God has in you even when society tells you you’re worth nothing are the two main themes that run through this story. Clay has gone through a lot because of his two older brothers. He feels literally like Joseph thrown into the pit, as his brothers took from him his girl and dreams. What gives him purpose now? Training to be the best Ranger he can be so he can take care of his buddies and then die, fulfilling the dream that haunts his every night and what he believes is God’s destiny for him. Despite what he’s lost, he still remains honorably and true, and is a thoroughly likable fellow everyone should enjoy.
Leah is like a lost little lamb when she starts out, but one thing I admired was that she never stopped fighting to better herself. Even though she’s an orphan who’s been told she has no value, she doesn’t stop trying to learn and advance in life. Somehow, she manages to see the good in everyone and thank God for His blessings instead of complaining.
A savage attack on Leah brings her and Clay into a marriage of convenience that over time, begins to develop into something much more.

A lot of story is spent on Clay training far away, while Leah learns to take care of herself and the child she now needs to raise. I was concerned that the author would just have the entire romance and a good chunk of story devoted to writing letters to each other, but I was glad to see she did not do that.

What I loved most about this book was the message of faith, of learning to trust God with everything. Both Leah and Clay started out with a lot of insecurities and hurts, but through it all they trusted God and He helped them to grow and heal. Overall, I found it an encouraging read with an awesome ending. Now on to getting the rest of the series. 😀

Verdict: Buy if you’re looking for a well-written and inspiring read.

(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.)

Posted February 25, 2020 by J.M. Christian in book reviews

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