Winter Cottage by Carol Ryrie Brink / illustrations by Fermin Rocker

From the inside flap:

It is the fall of 1930, the beginning of the Great Depression. Thirteen-year-old Minty Sparkes is already aware that she has a large responsibility for her family’s well-being, for although she loves her poetry-quoting father, both he and she realize that his verses and charm will not feed or house them and Eggs, Minty’s younger sister. 

How the Sparkes family manage during this penniless winter – and the unusual experiences they have – make a story that young girls will read with understanding, sympathy, and delight. A double-surprise ending adds to the reader’s pleasure, and the handsome drawings by Fermin Rocker capture the feeling of the characters and the locale.

My thoughts:

This is the sort of book that I want to hug when I’ve finished it. Though written for middle-grade children, Winter Cottage holds a story so lovely and timeless and sweetly simple that it is appropriate for all ages. Indeed, though it will enrich a child’s imagination and mind and heart, this book may become even more dear to older readers than to younger.

I first read this book just last week. Though I loved Carol Ryrie Brink’s Caddie Woodlawn as a child, I didn’t know Winter Cottage existed until I stumbled across it on a below-eye-level shelf in my tiny local library. The sturdy hardcover has obviously seen a good deal of joyful wear-and-tear over the years, and on the pocket inside (the one that holds the “date due” card), someone has noted in red pen, “Shelve with Wisconsin books.” I really enjoy reading good children’s books (As C.S. Lewis said, “A children’s story which is enjoyed only by children is a bad children’s story.” 🙂 ), and so I didn’t hesitate to add this one to my TBR stack.

One night after supper, I peeked inside – started reading the first chapter – and couldn’t stop! Winter Cottage enchanted me. Minty Sparkes (who was named Araminta after her great-aunt, in the vain hope that this would secure a share of that aunt’s inheritance) and her sister “Eggs” (named by her sentimental and poetry-quoting father “Eglantine,” a “name worthy of the poets”) began by securing my concern for them when – stranded in the northern Wisconsin wilderness with their father, their rickety car breaks down. What will they do? Where will they go?

Then they come upon a “summer cottage” – abandoned by its rich owners until the next summer season, nearly 9 months away. Surely, no one will mind if the Sparkes live there and take care of it? Surely, they can earn the rent to pay for their stay – even though they have no permission to stay at all? Eggs and Pop optimistically believe this; practical-minded Minty isn’t so sure…

But there’s nowhere else to go, and so an adventure ensues – one that hums with the molasses-sweetness of childhood, that makes your mouth water for one of Pop’s secret pancakes (after all, as he says, pancakes are the only thing he’s ever been successful at!), that inspires you to try a shadow play for yourself one of these snowed-in winter days.

And the ending! Though everything wraps up well, you will long for a sequel (there isn’t any 🙁 ) — which I take as the sign of a very good book, indeed. 🙂

If you’ve enjoyed Anne of Green Gables, Caddie Woodlawn, or All-of-a-Kind Family, you will love Winter Cottage! Unfortunately, it is out-of-print, but many libraries still carry an old copy – as was my happy discovery. 🙂 (Amazon has some old copies for sale, but they are expensive, so I’m not even going add a link to them.) This is also a great, great book to read aloud to the entire family.

Happy reading, friends!

Grace and peace,

Alicia Ruggieri

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The Wish by Beverly Lewis

From the back cover:

Leona Speicher got the “sister” she’d always dreamed of the day Gloria Gingerich and her family moved to Lancaster County Amish farmland. The Arkansas newcomers seem to be everything a devout Plain family should be, and Leona can’t help comparing Gloria’s engaging young parents to her own.

Leona’s cousin shows a romantic interest in Gloria around the same time as Gloria’s older brother expresses his fondness for Leona–it seems likely the two young women will marry into each other’s families, remaining close friends for life. Thus, Leona is shocked when the Gingeriches suddenly pack up and disappear after being expelled from the church for reasons no one will discuss. Despite Leona’s pleas, Gloria goes with them, leaving more than one broken heart behind.

When Gloria unexpectedly contacts Leona after a silence of several years, Leona makes up her mind to persuade her friend to return to Lancaster County and the Amish ways. Leona’s fiancé, the deacon’s son, is alarmed when Leona decides to go after Gloria. Will Leona’s dearest wish lead to her own undoing?

My Thoughts:

As I’ve probably said once (or twice 🙂 ) before, Beverly Lewis is my favorite “Amish author”. I’ve always loved Lewis distinguishes herself from many other Amish fiction authors by the way she explores, on an often-deeper biblical basis, the spiritual implications of the Amish faith (especially the Old Order) – She does this deftly, weaving the spiritual journeys of her characters into an often deceivingly-simple yet gripping storyline bedecked with characters who end up lodging deeply in my heart.

Now, on to The Wish…. Upon starting this one, a little disappointment dripped into my heart. Much of what the blurb promises as a major part of the main story takes only a couple of chapters at the beginning, and – because everything was so quickly explained – felt a little rushed. HOWEVER, persevere, my friends, if you pick this one up! As soon as the first couple of chapters go by, the book’s pace gets much better and I began to understand and sympathize with Leona – a sympathy that only deepens as the story continues.

Leona is a bit different than a lot of Amish fiction heroines – at least the ones I’m familiar with. 🙂 She’s very strong, but she has no questions about her loyalty to the Amish church at all, no true curiosity in her about the outside (“English”) world. Her outer journey, as it says on the back-cover blurb, centers on getting Gloria back to the Amish. Simple enough – deceivingly so. It is Leona’s inner journey that Lewis so beautifully crafts – one which I didn’t realize was happening until the last couple of chapters. Then I could look back and see how interesting and insightful the path Leona had taken was.

The only reservation I had was the scene in which Gloria asks if she can be obedient to Christ and not join the Amish church. There’s a little murkiness when Leona replies along the lines of, “You were raised to know what’s right,” implying that being Amish is the best expression of Christianity. This is an accurate depiction of the Amish mindset, from what I’ve observed and read, but I wish that there could have been some way to show that Leona isn’t correct about it.  However, in the large scheme of the novel’s story and themes, this murky bit is very small.

Other things I loved about The Wish:
  • One of the really lovely and unique things about this novel was the way that the romantic aspects were secondary – very much so – and yet complemented the whole so well, especially the relationship of Leona and Tom.
  • The depiction of the older characters – This was very real, well-orbed. I feel as though I could travel to Lancaster County and meet them at the market!
  • The foods – Lewis’ descriptions always encourages me to try my hand at shoofly pie! J
  • The setting – Through the pictures her words painted, I could see and enter the rooms and meadows and roads in this story.
  • The way Lewis draws my attention to how God works in every detail of our lives to bring us to the point we are now, to continue to give us opportunities to draw nearer to Him. “Connect the dots backward,” she says. And when we do, we begin to see a picture that will only be completed perhaps in eternity.
  • The theme of real, Christ-like human love drawing us closer to Christ – both in a church community and in a family. This is really beautifully depicted.
  • The way Lewis turns the expected meaning of the title inside-out at the end – I really loved that!

I recommend this one for adult readers, as well as teens 14+.

What are you reading? Is there an Amish-based novel you’ve read and loved?

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Hello,  friends!

Unlike it may appear, I haven’t disappeared off the face of the earth. 🙂 I have, however, as I mentioned in a social media post or newsletter {not sure at this point which!}, moved to a very {well, for us, at least!} area and have limited access to the Internet right now. {I’m writing this update from a very cozy local coffee shop – the nearest access to “civilization” {haha} that I have – and by “local”, I mean about 15 miles away… a far cry from what I used to mean when I said “local” in Rhode Island! 🙂 Life here is an adjustment, to say the least… a mostly joyful adjustment 🙂 , though I do find myself sometimes missing Iggy’s clamcakes and the craggy scent of the ocean in every breath.

Ah, and of course, I miss New England’s beautiful, tree-shaded graveyards – graveyards here are situated and circumstanced differently. Sigh. Though, I have recently discovered one that reminds me of New England – I think that graveyard and I may become good friends. 🙂

So what else have I been up to, other than scouting out graveyards? 🙂 As I was sharing with a dear writer-friend of mine, December is typically a “bad” writing month for me… There is so much {happy} busy-ness in preparation for the celebration of Christmas that I end up getting little writing done. However, I woke up one morning near this past Thanksgiving with a scene playing out in my little noggin….

Well, let me backtrack….

After A Love to Come Home To hit the shelves back in July, I was ready to throw myself wholly into getting that Secret Project written – hopefully finishing the rough draft {RD} in September or October. However, our move largely interrupted that work – I was still able to keep researching, for which I’m really glad, and I did get the writing prep and some of the start of the writing itself going. Then, after some of the “dust” settled, I planned to participate in Nanowrimo {never done it before!} in order to finish off the RD. But we ended up {rather unexpectedly} finding a more permanent abode in November – and moving in just after Thanksgiving! Well, that certainly shuffled things up, writing-wise, again!

So where does the Secret Project lie right now? In mid-rough-draft. The prayer of my heart is that God would write through me – would help me to see the way He would have me write. Again, as I continually say 🙂 , I look forward with joy to the day when I am able to share more with you, reader-friends… but I don’t feel at liberty to do that until I have at least the RD finished in a satisfactory way. I am working on it again now – hard, by God’s grace – and will keep you updated as it progresses. 🙂

Now, some of you may wonder why I didn’t finish up that Secret Project RD in December. As I mentioned above, I woke up sometime around Thanksgiving with a scene playing through my mind… a scene from Chetham, involving Ben. I’ve shared very little of this on social media, partially because I just haven’t had access to it, partially because I didn’t know for sure if the idea was a good one or not. I’d thought before of doing a series of novellas set in Chetham, following various members of the Picoletti family whose stories didn’t get tied up neatly at the end of the Trilogy, but I also didn’t want to write them just because… I wanted solid stories that enhanced the Trilogy and didn’t water it down. And that scene brought such a story, I believe. I outlined and began writing it, but as I got nearer to the end, there felt like there was something “off” about the ending. I wasn’t comfortable with the twist in the message that seemed to be coming through. After praying about it, I felt urged by the Lord to change the direction of the story, and, thus, I’m rewriting much of it. It is a Christmas-y story :-), and I’d hoped to release it in time for this past Christmas… but, due to the necessary rewrite, that wasn’t possible. Lord willin’ and the crick don’t rise, I plan to release it during Fall 2017.

But may I share the planned cover with you now? 🙂

I’m not sure how many novellas there will be in this Chetham-based “series” – I do know that I enjoy writing them, revisiting the Picollettis and Giorgis and the wonderful way God worked His mercies in their lives. We’ll see what ideas God brings. 🙂

For those of you who have asked about Jemima Sudbury – YES! 🙂 I am still planning to finish that series out, by God’s grace. The writing of those books goes very quickly, but the story development and research take me some time, so pray for my perseverance! I’m starting to understand C.S. Lewis’ dedication page in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: “Girls grow quicker than books.”

Again and again, I’m reminded of what a blessing it is for me to write – and to write for the King of Kings. I’m reading Francine Rivers’ devotional Earth Psalms, and there’s one entry early on that talks so strongly about doing whatever we do for Christ. That’s true for me whether I’m sweeping the floor – or writing – or reading – or cleaning the bathroom – or talking to someone. It is all for the King, friends. So let us keep doing whatever He has called us to – with joy, with perseverance, and with heartiness!

With love in Christ Jesus,

Grace and peace to you,

Alicia Ruggieri

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year… 🙂 Christmas is coming!

To celebrate the advent of this lovely, nostalgic season in a “novel” way (hehe), there’s a super e-book sale going on that you might like to know about, friends ~ Every single one of my books is 99 cents for a very limited time. So, if you’ve been waiting for a sale to snag another A Time of Grace book {Have you read A Love to Come Home To or All Our Empty Places?}, or if you’ve been wanting to read The House of Mercy or to gift the first Jemima Sudbury book to a young person in your life, this is a great time to do that!

{As a side note, if you’re interested in a sale for print books, Amazon has a great coupon code going on right now for Black Friday ~ $10 off a $25 print book purchase! Here’s the link: http://amzn.to/2fyaqG1}

And for those of you who like lists {like I do!}, here’s a list of the complete e-book sale going on RIGHT NOW:

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From the back cover:

Viking warrior. Dauntless leader. Protective mother.

Determined to rise above her rank as the illegitimate “forest child” of Eirik the Red, Freydis launches a second voyage to Vinland to solidify her power and to demand the respect she deserves. She will return home with enough plunder to force her brother, Leif, to sell her the family farm in Greenland.

But nothing can prepare her for the horrors she must confront in Vinland…and nothing can stand in her way when her family is threatened.

In her race to outrun the truths that might destroy her, Freydis ultimately collides with the only enemy she cannot silence—her own heart.

Historically based on the Icelandic Sagas, Forest Child brings the memorable, conflicted persona of Freydis Eiriksdottir to life. This immersive tale is Book Two in the bestselling Vikings of the New World Saga.

My thoughts:

First off, let me say that Freydis’ story was different than what I thought that it was going to be – I thought it would be a violent, bloody adventure with a nod to Christianity. It was bloody and violent and it did have adventure – but it was so much more – so much deeper – with such devastating beauty coming from the ashes. My mind kept returning to the book during my non-reading time – not so much to figure out what was going to happen (though there was that, too!) but to mull over the significance of what was already happening.

I didn’t like Freydis too much in God’s Daughter (Vikings of the New World, Book 1) – I know that I’m probably in the minority of readers there. 🙂 She seemed too hard, too inscrutable, too unmerciful and uncaring about those around her – totally selfish and self-centered. But Gilbert gently cracks open that hard shell in Forest Child and has given such a portrait of the broken, proud, fierce yet fragile, afraid-to-be-afraid woman – my heart broke for Freydis – I saw something of myself mirrored in her – and I understood her, even if I didn’t always agree with her. Heather Day Gilbert carefully crafts her characters in each of her books; to me, the character of Freydis is her one of her very best thus far.

But then there are the supporting characters: Ref, Valdis, Leif – the characters are so well-orbed, unique – they provide “mirrors” into ourselves – I came away from each reading time thinking, pondering them. If I went back to 11th-century Vinland :-), I wouldn’t be surprised to find them there, living and breathing, exactly as the author depicted them.

Some have spoken of The Vikings of the New World Saga as “edgy” Christian fiction. I understand where someone might think it is – It’s definitely not for reading when you want to escape the brutality of real life. It’s no Love Comes Softly. But, to be honest, despite incorporating necessary harsh scenes, the author did well with steering away from gratuitously graphic descriptions.

This is much grittier – much more intense in every way – spiritually, thematically, even perspective-wise – than a lot of Christian fiction. And intense isn’t bad. AT ALL. We need more real, intense novels that don’t shirk away from the pain, the difficult decisions… or away from the cost of the Cross. And this story did not – It is starkly, severely beautiful. Due to the novel’s intensity, I’d recommend Forest Child to adult readers and to mature older teens.

And the ending! I loved the ending. It is totally satisfying yet leaves you yearning for more – the best kind of ending! I love the incredibly redemptive, sensitive yet uncompromising message about marriage and what love really is – I love the message that blossoms about the value of vulnerability with those who love us and the healing of true forgiveness. This is a great book not only to read yourself and ponder – but also to give to friends.

Find out more about author Heather Day Gilbert and Forest Child {releasing 11/1/16!} here:

http://www.heatherdaygilbert.com

Grace and peace through Him who is our peace,

Alicia

As a beta reader and endorser, I received a copy of this book free from the author. As always, however, I wasn’t required to provide a positive review – all thoughts are my own. 🙂 

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Four newly-releasing books I’m itching to get my paws on this Autumn:
  1. The Cottage {Secrets of the Shetlands, Book 2} by Michael Phillips ~ A Scottish story by one of my favorite fiction writers – a man who seems able to breath depth and life into every book he writes ~ I can’t wait for this one! 🙂
  2. Shadow of the Storm {Out of Egypt, Book 2} by Connilyn Cossette ~ I loved the first book in this seriees – devoured it from beginning to end, in fact {see my review here}.
  3. Befriending the Beast by Amanda Tero ~ Amanda is a favorite indie author of mine, and Beauty and the Beast holds a dear place in my heart. ~ What could be better, then, than this short fairytale retelling by her? And I have this one on my Kindle already, just waiting for a spare hour or two. 🙂
  4. Courageous Faith: My Story from a Life of Obedience by Charles F. Stanley ~ Dr. Stanley is one of my favorite preachers to listen to in the car or while I’m cleaning the house — I can remember his steady, fervent southern voice from when I was a little girl and my mom played his sermons on our kitchen-counter cassette player! His life of integrity is one that holds great interest for me ~ looking forward to this book for certain! 🙂

A very eclectic bunch! 🙂 Going from genre to genre keeps me alert as a reader, I think.

What books are you looking forward to reading in the red-orange-gold months ahead, friends?
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Hello, my lovely and longsuffering reader-friends! 🙂

This is going to just be a short but rambly sort of life + writing update post ~ no book review here, no real musings ~ more just to give you an idea of what I’m up to and where I’m at, since I’ve been missing-in-action for a few weeks. So come along ~ grab a mug of pumpkin spice coffee {or tea, if you prefer} and a nice chunky piece of biscotti {a must!} ~ and let me tell you what the Lord God has been doing in my life + writing.

After several years of planning {that’s a story in and of itself}, my husband and I have moved out to the Midwest ~ to Wisconsin, to be precise. 🙂

It’s a VERY different place than Rhode Island in many, many ways ~ from the way people interact with one another, to what’s acceptable to do/say in public, to the attitude toward various aspects of life… I’m thinking that I’ll let you know some of the conclusions I’m coming to as I compare and contrast each day ~ but that will be for another post.

For now, let me just comment that Wisconsin is VAST. As we were driving home from shopping one evening, the sun melting across the far-flung horizon, my husband commented to me, “It’s an ocean. An ocean of land.”

Leave it to life-long Rhode Islanders to compare the Midwest to a quintessential part of our native land. 😉

Our trip out here was {overall} uneventful ~ something to be thankful for especially when you’re traveling with pets. 🙂 On the way, we listened to Charles Stanley’s series on Revelation ~ which I cannot recommend highly enough! Get thee hence and find your own copy HERE. 🙂 You will be very glad that you did!

One of the steps of faith that we took when moving here was my husband’s work ~ We moved without him having a job here. {Note: I’m not saying that God leads everyone to do that ~ I’m only saying that He led us to trust Him in that, knowing that He was leading us here.} Keeping it in prayer before our Heavenly Father, my husband searched for employment in a specific field here… and God provided in a way we would never have thought of, truly. Of all things, he’s working for an Amish business and getting training in an area that he’s long desired to. It’s a joy for us ~ the Lord has been so gracious and has answered our prayers in this!

Day by day, we’re settling in ~ there’s still a lot of things to get done here-and-there, but God is working everything out slowly but surely. I’m finding out the joys of frozen custard, {Rhode Island, you need a Culvers!} and my pug is learning that sidewalks just might not be so untrustworthy as he once thought 😉 ~ and he’s gradually getting used to the new surroundings in which he has suddenly found himself.

Which brings me to a surprise. 🙂 Apparently, there’s going to be another Mr. Portly book for children/families. The idea for the storyline came to me during our long {20ish-hour} drive here, and I sensed the go-ahead from the Lord for it. So, as the dust has settled, I’ve begun this fun, new book! It even has a title:

Mr. Portly and His Worrisome Wusk

What’s a “wusk,” you ask? Well, you’ll have to wait *just a bit* to see! 🙂 I have about 1/2 of the book written as a rough-draft and should finish writing it within the next few days. More coming about that soon! 🙂

What else am I working on? If you’re one of my newsletter subscribers, you’ll remember that I mentioned a “secret writing project.” That’s still classified information :-), but I’m aiming to get a good chunk of the rough draft for that written this month… and I’m *tentatively planning* to participate in NaNoWriMo in November to finish it ~ but we’ll see what God has in mind. {NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month, in which participants aim to write 50,000 words in 30 days.} Of course, rebel that I am {haha}, I’ll probably participate “unofficially.” 🙂 The research part of writing this novel {which was necessarily substantial} is winding down {at last!}. Of course, I’ll keep looking up things when I come across issues as I write, but the big, hefty portion is {I think!} finished for now. Whew! Thank the Lord!

As I shared with newsletter subscribers last month, this is a novel that has been on my heart for a couple of years now ~ I ask that you would pray for me in it if you think of it: that God would write His story through my “earthen” hands and keep me from hesitating where the going is hard.

If you’d like to keep up with seeing how I’m progressing on that project, you can check out the word-counter on the sidebar to the right. Yup, it’s at zero right now. 🙂

I’m looking forward to sharing another post with you {more bookish!} this Friday, Lord willing. Until then, may the Lord hold you in the hollow of His hand.

Grace and peace,

Alicia

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Hello, friends!

Recently, I’ve received requests from some of you for signed softcover copies of the A Time of Grace Trilogy ~ for your own book collection or as a gift for a friend.

I love knowing that these novels are winging their way into your hearts, friends, and making their home on your bookshelves. My desire, above all else, is that God would make His glory – His mercy – His love – His truth – known to each of us through these stories of a seemingly-simpler time.

So, to better enable that, I’m holding a private book signing and sale ~ just for you!

From 8/24/16  through 9/6/16, you may purchase the signed-just-for-you novels in the A Time of Grace Trilogy at a special price ~ and I will cover the shipping as a gift to you!

Here’s the pricing info you need:

  • Each volume is $11. {That’s about $2 off the list price.}
  • Or, receive the entire A Time of Grace Trilogy for $30! {That’s about $9 off the list price for the series.}
  • Payment is by check or through Paypal ~ whichever works best for you.

This is a great opportunity to get the whole series at a very good discount ~ or just that one book that you’re missing. 🙂 Get them for yourself, for a friend who could use encouragement in the form of words and paper, or for your church library.

*Please note that this is a special price that I am not able to offer all the time.*

To request your signed copies, contact me HERE or message me on my author Facebook page HERE.

I’m looking forward to sending these out to you!

May He give you His grace and peace,

Alicia

P.S. For those of you who have purchased softcovers from Amazon or B & N and would like them signed, I would love to send you a signed bookplate that adheres to the inside cover of the novels. These bookplates are completely *free* ~ I just need you to send me your address via e-mail. 🙂

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Counted With the Stars by Connilyn Cossette

From the back cover:

Sold into slavery by her father and forsaken by the man she was supposed to marry, young Egyptian Kiya must serve a mistress who takes pleasure in her humiliation. When terrifying plagues strike Egypt, Kiya is in the middle of it all.

To save her older brother and escape the bonds of slavery, Kiya flees with the Hebrews during the Great Exodus. She finds herself utterly dependent on a fearsome God she’s only just beginning to learn about, and in love with a man who despises her people. With everything she’s ever known swept away, will Kiya turn back toward Egypt or surrender her life and her future to Yahweh?

My thoughts:

In all honesty, I approach biblical fiction with trepidation, questions putting a hesitation in my reader-steps: Will the author stay faithful to the biblical account or play “fast and loose” with it? Even if she keeps the basic account faithful, will the author add in so much “extra-biblical” content that she changes the meaning or detracts from it? Sadly, I’ve put aside more than one biblical-fiction novel because of that.

But Connilyn Cossette’s Counted With the Stars was not one of them. At all. 🙂 I put off the lamp later than usual more than one evening during my time reading this exquisite rendering of one young Egyptian woman’s path into the Father-heart of Yahweh during the time of the Exodus.

Cossette’s in-depth research shows itself in every chapter, on every page, yet never distracts from the story but always enhances it. I loved learning about the way Egyptian house were designed and what daily routines looked like for servants and masters. The author describes places and things such as the town’s marketplace and feasting-halls and ointments in such a way that I could close my eyes and visualize them – could imagine that I heard the scrape of tools and rustle of grasses – could smell the perfumes and foods! I loved that. The skillful descriptions take the book up from being a very interesting story to an excellently-told one.

The characters — oh, I really enjoyed them and am looking forward with a big smile to reading supporting character Shira’s story this fall (here). The main character, Kiya, is flawed in such a way that I could sympathize with her plight, even if I felt frustrated with her decisions at times. Eben, the main male character, is a wonderful blend of courage, true manliness, compassion, and humility… yet he, too, isn’t “perfect” — a good part of the tension of the story comes from his own struggles with guilt and forgiveness. His relationship with Kiya is one of the most tender yet heart-aching romantic stories I’ve read lately. Though there were some characters whose backstories I would have loved to know more about, each person was well-crafted and necessary to the story told.

What I found most full of light and encouraging was the message — the beautiful, truth-brimming theme  that unfurls through the book like a morning glory: that anyone who wants to come to Yahweh – who wants to become part of His people – may come; that this has always been the case and always will be. Anyone may become one of Abraham’s children – may be “counted with the stars.” So much joy filled my heart, friends, when I saw that Cossette didn’t shirk from proclaiming the truth of the Scriptures consistently and with a bold stroke. It was really encouraging!

{A note: While the author does stay very faithful to the biblical account in Exodus, there are times (for example, with the Red Sea parting or – at least it seemed to me – later when God speaks from the mountain) when she takes artistic liberty to imagine what the Bible doesn’t describe in detail. Even though I may have a different “take” on what I believe the Bible is depicting there, especially in the mountain scene, I don’t believe that the jist of the biblical account is compromised. As with any fictional retelling, I encourage you return to the Bible for final authority.}

I highly recommend this for readers 16 and up. It’s a wonderful, worthwhile novel.

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Each Friday, I recommend a book that I think you’ll enjoy, too. Do I include books I don’t like? Nope – only ones that I believe will refresh, encourage, and challenge you in your walk with Jesus Christ. {Often, there’s also a giveaway… because I like giveaways!}

Two From Galilee by Marjorie Holmes

Here from Marjorie Holmes, one of the most  beloved authors of our day, is the extraordinary  bestselling novel that tells the story of Mary and  Joseph as it has never been told before–the greatest  love story of all.

This is the  story of two real people whose lives were touched by  God: two people chosen by God to provide an earthly  home for His Son. Here are Mary and Joseph-a  teenage girl and a young carpenter-alone, frightened,  in love, faced with family conflict, a hostile  world and an awesome responsibility. It is a story  for young and old alike; for everyone who finds the  Christmas tale a source of timeless beauty and  wonder, a compassionate, emotional novel of divine love.

I have been waiting on the edge of my seat to share about this little novel with you, friends. I’ve read it several times now, and each time it touches my heart and spirit and mind in a fresh way.

I came across it out of boredom one day when I was a teenager ~ I must have not had any new books out of the library and the contents of my own shelves must have lost their sparkle. Thank the good Lord for a book-loving mother ~ I headed over to her shelves and perused their contents. Two From Galilee sat there. I asked my mama if I could read it {the unspoken rule being to ask because some things are better read at different ages}, and she said, “Oh, yes!”

What I opened that day was an intimate, real-life look into what it might have been like for that very real-life couple, young Mary and her carpenter-betrothed Joseph, as they found that they’d been chosen by God to raise His Son. What it could have been like for her family and for his, neither of which are painted here with halos.

Marjorie Holmes draws the veil back carefully but reverently, something I strongly appreciate. Through the story she gently tells, she reminds us that God uses ordinary people, people who are afraid at times, who doubt and lack faith to believe, who don’t always make the right choices. She reminds us that there is grace to uphold us – to fill in the cracks of our broken earthen vessels.

And Two From Galilee reminds us that we have an extraordinary God. One Who loves and tenderly cares for each individual person. One Who wants us to believe that He will do what He says. One Who will *always* come through for us if we follow Him in obedience, though we stumble ~ even when outward circumstances seem dark.

This novel is well-worth reading, friends, and to encourage you to do just that, I’m giving away a softcover copy of it.

How to enter: Comment below ~ Do you have “favorite” person in the Biblical account of Jesus’ birth? Mary? Joseph? The Wise Men? Someone else? Let me know why. 🙂

Giveaway is open to the continental U.S. only due to shipping costs. Giveaway ends on Thursday, August 11, 2016 at 8 p.m. EST.

Please note that I haven’t read any of Marjorie Holmes’ other books and so cannot vouch for them in any way. 🙂

 

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