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Monday, June 22, 2015

the pharaoh's daughter {book review}

//title: the pharaoh's daughter//


//author: mesu andrews//

//series: book 1, treasures of the nile//

//genre: christian fiction//

“You will be called Anippe, daughter of the Nile. Do you like it?” Without waiting for a reply, she pulls me into her squishy, round tummy for a hug. 

I’m trying not to cry. Pharaoh’s daughters don’t cry.

When we make our way down the tiled hall, I try to stop at ummi Kiya’s chamber. I know her spirit has flown yet I long for one more moment. Amenia pushes me past so I keep walking and don’t look back. 

Like the waters of the Nile, I will flow.
Anippe has grown up in the shadows of Egypt’s good god Pharaoh, aware that Anubis, god of the afterlife, may take her or her siblings at any moment. She watched him snatch her mother and infant brother during childbirth, a moment which awakens in her a terrible dread of ever bearing a child. Now she is to be become the bride of Sebak, a kind but quick-tempered Captain of Pharaoh Tut’s army. In order to provide Sebak the heir he deserves and yet protect herself from the underworld gods, Anippe must launch a series of deceptions, even involving the Hebrew midwives—women ordered by Tut to drown the sons of their own people in the Nile. 

     When she finds a baby floating in a basket on the great river, Anippe believes Egypt’s gods have answered her pleas, entrenching her more deeply in deception and placing her and her son Mehy, whom handmaiden Miriam calls Moses, in mortal danger.

  As bloodshed and savage politics shift the balance of power in Egypt, the gods reveal their fickle natures and Anippe wonders if her son, a boy of Hebrew blood, could one day become king. Or does the god of her Hebrew servants, the one they call El Shaddai, have a different plan—for them all?

I adore biblical fiction, so when I saw the synopsis for The Pharaoh's Daughter, I HAD to read it!

When I began reading, I was immediately drawn into the history, politics, and drama of Ancient Egypt.  I was captivated by the religious culture and the ramifications on its people--particularly its royal daughters.   The author spun the tale of a frightened little girl as she grows up, becoming the wife of a powerful soldier, fiercely dedicated to the gods of her people; living a life of secrecy as she covers up her fear of childbirth with the discovery of the baby Hebrew, once destined for destruction...

I was fascinated at how well the pieces of history were all tied together and founded with the solid truth of God's word.  I loved the pages at the end in which the author explains how she 'found' Pharaoh's daughter in the pages of history, and how she used the various historical figures to explain and tell the true story of Moses...a fictional rendering, yes, but so well researched that I would not be surprised if it was closer to the truth than we might think!

The prose of the story was beautiful and fluid, the characters were real and relatable, the plot moved at the perfect pace, lingering enough to fall in love with the characters, but swift enough to span the 20 some years that make up the story.  I loved the two most dominant lessons of trusting the Lord and overcoming fear!  I found Miriam's love and satisfaction in her Lord especially inspiring.  Such a beautiful picture of the Hebrews in ancient Egypt--content in their God.  I'm looking forward to reading more of Miriam's story in book 2, coming out next year!

Because of some of the romantic elements in the story, I wouldn't recommend the book for anyone under 16.

All in all, such a beautiful story--creative and inspiring, based on solid truths.  Well worth the read!

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

desperate measures {book review}

//title: desperate measures//

//series: book 3, port aster secrets//

//author: sandra orchard//


//genre: christian fiction//

Kate won't be safe until all of Port Aster's secrets are revealed

Researcher Kate Adams has finally pinpointed the supposed "miracle plant" that tore apart her family years ago. She's certain that discovering its secrets is her only hope of solving the mystery surrounding her father's disappearance. She's willing to risk anything to find the truth, including her relationship with Detective Tom Parker. But with so many people in pursuit of the plant, going it alone might be a fatal mistake.

Award-winning author Sandra Orchard pulls out all the stops in this breakneck and breathtaking conclusion to the Port Aster Secrets series.

I was immediately drawn into the action and intrigue of this book.  The plot was very interesting, the suspense definitely kept me turning pages!  I appreciated the depth of Kate's character and faith.  Spunky with a mind of her own, but gracious and optimistic--but scarred.  Ms. Orchard did an excellent job of fashioning the main characters of this book with heroic, admirable traits, and most importantly the type of flaws that make them relatable and real.

I was disappointed in some of the disjointed writing, however.  I noticed much of the dialogue felt too-obvious and strained.  Also, some of the situations felt unrealistic and pushed--like the first time


that Tom and Kate kiss is because he is covering her mouth with his own to keep her quiet because she doesn't hear someone sneaking up on them?  I thought that was pushing it.  That was just one of the many instances that I felt were a bit awkward and out of place...trying to push the story along instead of it flowing naturally.

I read this book stand-alone from the first two in the series.  I appreciated how the author did an excellent job of giving enough of the details from the first two books woven throughout the story to help you understand the beginning without giving too much to bore the reader of the first two.  While some of the details did lose me a little as a result of not having read the first two, I was still drawn in and truly enjoyed the climactic ending!

Thanks to Revell Books for providing a complimentary copy of this book for my honest review.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

drawing fire {book review}

//title: drawing fire//

//author: janice cantore//


//genre: christian fiction//

One case from her past defines homicide detective Abby Hart.
With a possible serial killer stalking elderly women in Long Beach, California, Abby’s best lead is Luke Murphy, an irritating private investigator who saw a suspect flee the scene of the latest homicide. When Abby discovers that the most recent victim is related to the governor, she’s anxious to talk to him about a cold case that’s personal to her―one Luke is interested in as well.As she learns more about the restaurant fire that took her parents’ lives years ago, Abby discovers why Luke is so invested in finding the ones responsible. The more they uncover, though, the more questions they have. Can Abby find peace without having all the answers?

Confession:  I have a thing for crime investigation novels.  There's something about the suspense and mystery of them.  I'm always drawn to stories: books and movies alike that portray the quest for justice.  When I saw the synopsis for Drawing Fire, I had to read it! ;)

It took me a little while to be drawn into the plot, but once I began to understand Abby's background and history, I found myself truly empathizing with her.  Her struggles in trying to balance justice with vengeful feelings was intriguing...I loved how the author incorporated Abby's Christian beliefs and worldview in her work without making the book 'preachy'.  

All of the characters were beautifully three-dimensional.  Real hearts and real struggles, and diverse personalities!  As the book switched points of view (excellently well done, I might add) I loved seeing how the other characters view each other.  Luke, the extroverted, enthusiastic guy, quick witted, but also hot tempered.  And Abby, the introverted, more solemn and thoughtful woman, tactful but also closed off.  Excellent diversity of character voicing!

I will say though, I didn't like Abby's relationship with her fiancĂ©...which seemed barely existent.  The way that it was portrayed, I kept wondering how they ever got engaged in the first place.  Also, as I previously mentioned, it took me a little while to 'get into' the book.  At first, it felt like too many moving parts at a time--I got a little confused.  

All in all, it was a great read.  An easy read, but definitely interesting and one to leave you thinking.

I found the end to be unsatisfying to say the least, BUT...in a good way.  I appreciated how it left the reader wanting more, causing more thought about the story itself.  What would you do if you were Abby?  It also left an empty stage, curtain ready to be drawn for book two, which I am eager to read!

Special thanks to Tyndale Blog Network for providing me with a complementary copy of Drawing Fire in exchange for this honest review.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

too messy people

Messy people.  Messy people everywhere.

We talk about how God takes our messiness and by grace turns it into something beautiful.  He exchanges beauty for ashes, wholeness for brokenness.  Right?

In fact, it's hip to be messy right now.  So hip, that an artificial lens of 'socially acceptable' messiness covers our lives.

We talk about being 'real'.  We laugh and joke with each other about our little 'messes'.  Keyword: little.  The ones that we know nobody will judge us for.  The harmless imperfections.

Socially accepted messes.  In light of them, nobody wants to talk about their real messes.  They look way too real.  Scary close.

"If that is considered socially messy, there's no way I'll willingly bring this mess to light."

And if we're honest, we don't want to hear about the real messes.

Once somebody's true messiness begins to show through, we shrink back in horror.

She struggles with that?

He believes that?

She said that?

He did that?

She wants that?

He still does that?

The real struggles.  The ones that are actually hard to love. 

I hear about a mess.  A real mess.  A disgusting, deplorable mess that makes me angry.  It makes me rise up in righteous indignation, so I think.  I go on and on, judging.

Until I it hits me.  Fast, hard, and true.

Their mess is no better than mine.

There are no socially acceptable messes.

We all fail in the eyes of God.

We all need His relentless love.

They will know that we are Christians by our love for one another...until we find out just how messed up each of us really are.  Until we let each other down.  Until we fail each other.  Betray each other.  Hurt each other.  Until we see each others messiness...and shrink back in horror.

But it's just a mirror.

God looks at each of us and sees our messiness equally.  We all need grace.  We all need His mercy.

Oh, His amazing grace, unfathomable mercy, relentless love!

If He should give so much to each one of us, how dare we judge one another?

Daily, God sees just how messed up our hearts are.  Moment by moment we let Him down.  Barely a breath goes by before we fail Him again.  The number of times we've betrayed Him makes a thousand look small.  We hurt Him deeply with a single thought.

This is real messiness.

And yet, He still loves.

His hands still stretch out, willing to give us beauty for our deplorable ashes.

He is willing to turn this mess, this socially acceptable and unacceptable mess, into a beautiful mess.

And I have no excuse.

We have no excuse.

There should be no need for socially acceptable messes.  There should be no fear of sharing our real struggles with one another.  Heart burdens, flesh struggles, soul questions.  These things should never be shoved away.  Doubts, fears, hard questions.  These things should be brought to light.

Instead, because they are looked down upon, they fester in the darkness.  They grow.  They thrive hidden away. They loom over the life of their owner.  Sometimes they take over the heart, squeezing the life for every drop of faith.

My beloved readers, may we foster such a camaraderie within the church that this ceases to occur.  May we open our arms.  May we love the unlovable.  May we love so hard, our hearts break with fullness.  May we make burden sharing irresistible, that healing may begin.

May we support each other.  May we love each other in spite of betrayal.  In spite of hurt.  In spite of the past.  May we know each others weakness, because we know our own weakness.

May we forgive each other.  Extend the beauty that was given to us.

Love one another as Jesus does.

"By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." ~John 13:35

Monday, June 8, 2015

the sound of diamonds {book review & giveaway}

My dear readers, I am so excited about today's review!  About a year ago, I was 'introduced' to Rachelle Rea through the Go Teen Writers community.  I conversed with her a bit and loved talking to her!  When I heard that she was getting ready to publish her debut novel, I could not WAIT to read it!  And boy, I was not disappointed...

//title: the sound of diamonds//

{Releasing June 15, 2015!}

//author: rachelle rea//


Her only chance of getting home is trusting the man she hates. 
With the protestant Elizabeth on the throne of England and her family in shambles, Catholic maiden Gwyneth seeks refuge in the Low Countries of Holland, hoping to soothe her aching soul. But when the Iconoclastic Fury descends and bloodshed overtakes her haven, she has no choice but to trust the rogue who arrives, promising to see her safely home to her uncle's castle. She doesn't dare to trust him...and yet doesn't dare to refuse her one chance to preserve her own life and those of the nuns she rescues from the burning convent. 
Dirk Godfrey is determined to restore his honor at whatever cost. Running from a tortured past, Dirk knows he has only one chance at redemption, and it lies with the lovely Gwyneth, who hates him for the crimes she thinks he committed. He must see her to safety, prove to the world that he is innocent, prove that her poor eyesight is not the only thing that has blinded her but what is he to do when those goals clash? 
The home Gwyneth knew is not what she once thought. When a dark secret and a twisted plot for power collide in a castle masquerading as a haven, the saint and the sinner must either dare to hold to hope...or be overcome.

Overall, I loved it!  Mystery, romance, truth searching, full of surprises, rich with history, this book has it all. I had a difficult time ever putting it down, and when I did, I was anxious to get back to it.  Which doesn't happen with many books!

I loved the characters. So rich, complex, so full of history and heart.  Gwyn's spiritual struggle during her journey--her weaknesses and faults made her relatable and real, but her courage and passion for God made her beautiful and honorable.  Dirk's character was strong and admirable, but the cracks in his strength--his weakness for Gwyn made him oh so lovable and real.  I could go on and on, but my favorite part about this book was the intricacy of the characters--so beautifully crafted!

This historically rich tale is written from a first-person perspective from two characters' points of view.  The prose was elegant, richly giving off a flavor of the historical era in which the story took place.  This made the book a bit harder to read--completely enjoyable, having to read a tad slower to savor it, but a little more difficult to understand nonetheless.  At a few points in the story, I found myself a little lost, unable to build an image of the scene in my mind.  I went back a few lines, reread and was able to craft a picture, filling in some of the 'understood' blanks.  But because of this I wouldn't define this book as an 'easy read'.

All in all, I loved the book.  The intricate characters and plot, the inner spiritual struggle, the idea of portraying the heart of a Catholic girl with poor eyesight in the world of flowering Protestantism was sheerly brilliant!  As I was going through the book, I found myself telling my sisters, "It's books like this that make me fall in love with reading all over again!"  Driving home from work the other night, I was anxious to get back to it...only to finish it in the wee hours of the morning.

Brava to Rachelle for such an excellently crafted debut!  I am so much looking forward to the next books in the Steadfast Love series.

About the Author

Rachelle Rea plots her novels while driving around the little town she’s lived in all her life in her dream car, a pick-up truck. As a freelance editor, she enjoys mentoring fellow authors in the craft. A homeschool graduate and retired gymnast, she wrote the Sound of Diamonds the summer after her sophomore year of college.

Further links:

I'll bet you're dying to read it now, aren't you?  Well, good news!  Rachelle is hosting a giveaway where you can win a copy of The Sound of Diamonds AND a $20 Amazon gift card!  Enter below for your chance to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway