Irish Meadows: The Courage to Dream Bk 1 by Susan Anne Mason ~ Review~

Irish Meadows: The Courage to Dream Bk 1 by Susan Anne Mason

Irish Meadows

The author, Susan Anne Mason, has skillfully created a world into which we can feel comfortable. The two main characters, Brianna and Colleen, could be our sisters, realistically endearing and frustrating simultaneously. Brianna feels she has grown up in Colleen’s shadow, her father’s favored daughter. Nothing she did seemed to gain his respect. Colleen is the sister we love to hate. She is bold, brash, flirtatious, the apple of her father’s eye, and always on the prowl for rich, handsome bachelors. She played with them and even pit them against each other. Brianna, on the other hand, wanted to attend a university in the fall. She had no use for men at the moment, although her daddy wanted her to get married to a suitable (prosperous) gentleman as soon as possible.

But then Gilbert Whelan returned to Irish Meadows after three years at college. Gil grew up on the farm, the son of the O’Leary’s housekeeper. When she died, James O’Leary took in Gil and treated him like a son. He was big brother to all the rest of the five O’Leary children. Adam, the eldest son, resented Gil for that. Brianna wanted to enlist Gil’s aid in convincing her father to allow her to further her education. But it became a more complicated situation when she discovered her feelings for him were no longer brotherly. Gil himself has felt the stirrings of love for Brianna. When he finally gained the courage to approach James, his mentor and father figure, he was flatly refused. The reason shook him to the core.Irish Meadows quote1

One day a distant relative of mother 0’Leary’s came to stay with the family for awhile. Rylan Montgomery needed a place to stay for a few months while he worked on his internship. His goal was to become a priest. It was Colleen’s duty to ferry him around until he became familiar with the area. When her father caught her in a compromising position one evening, he “sentenced” her to working with Rylan at the orphanage. This was truly punitive for Colleen since she hated all things religious, including priests, church and orphanages. However, working with Rylan day after day brought about subtle changes to her heart. She began to enjoy working with the children. In introspection, she questioned her previous dubious behavior. And…she fell in love with Rylan. Colleen’s world was turned upside down. Family dynamics, secrets, disastrous emotional upheavals and more make this book an intriguing read.Irish Meadows quote2

There’s a lot to like in this book. First, the Point of View (POV) is key to how the author develops tension and suspense. There are four Points of View: Colleen’s, Brianna’s, Rylan’s, and Gilbert’s. This author manages to blend them so well that she avoids the disjointed feeling so common in books with so many POV’s. I feel these points of view are what keeps this storyline moving along without stalling for lack of physical action. That’s excellent characterization.Irish Meadows quote3

Second, the four main characters all have a crisis of heart to meet, deal with, and resolve. Even the secondary characters, Kathleen and James O’Leary, the parents, had to face issues themselves such as what really mattered in life, and how to handle secrets within a family unit. Each issue felt real, urgent, and relevant for today even if the source is a historical novel. I found each of the conflicts plausible and could relate to many of them myself. The author manages to create believable people we can become akin to and care for.Irish Meadows quote4

Third, this is a faith-based book. I love how each voice dealing with an issue was facing something that included a crisis of faith, as well as heart and home. When a faith issue has to be dealt with, even though it may be an entirely private matter between you and God, it does affect those around us because what we believe leads to how we live our lives. That is how this author presents each character’s conflicts. When we are privvy to their thoughts, feelings and the process of resolution within, we appreciate them more for their struggles, even if they are still a flawed individual. I enjoyed the process as I read along, because what they struggled with was thought-provoking and insightful. And since most of this was internal, none of it sounded even remotely like preaching or finger wagging. Rather, I felt blessed to gain a glimpse through the window of their souls. I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series which will give us Adam’s story.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy (ARC) of this book from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

 

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Spring Dawn (Seasons of Faith Book 3) by Rebekah Lyn ~ Review

Spring Dawn (Seasons of Faith Book 3) by Rebekah Lyn

Spring Dawn

Spring Dawn is the third book in Rebekah Lyn’s Season of Faith series. In Book 1, we meet Elizabeth, Ian, Jeffrey, Stephen and Michelle. Book 2 continues the story of these five friends. In Book 3, the main plot is focused equally between Ian and Elizabeth’s growing romance and Jeffrey’s life and spiritual growth as a new Christian. You can read my reviews on Book 1 here and Book 2 here. By the time I finished reading the third book, I felt these five characters were also my friends. And because they are, I can’t wait to see more resolution in their lives.

In looking back over the scope of the books I’ve read so far in this series, I could see a pattern. The first book was a book of disasters where many people were thrown together in an effort to survive the season’s group of hurricanes. Our five main characters meet under different conditions and in different capacities. The second book was a book of mystery and adventure where Ms. Lyn’s readers become better acquainted with the friends. This third book is a book of testing: testing character, testing resolves, and testing relationships. An example of this is in the development of Ian and Lizzie’s relationship. In the second book, the reader may conclude that their relationship was on solid ground. Yet this third book creates uncertainty, tests their stability as a couple and stretching each one individually. That makes for very good reading.

Spring Dawn quote1

Lizzie begins to put distance between herself and Ian, while simultaneously drawing closer to Jeffrey, especially after his car accident. Ian becomes jealous of Jeffrey when he finds out about this. Michelle, too, feels some envy at Jeffrey and Lizzie’s easy camaraderie. Ian is already frustrated with the slow growth of his design business. He begins to wonder if Lizzie is the One for him to settle down with. Lizzie is not aware of these undercurrents. She is battling her own fears about falling back into her past lifestyle which she has kept hidden from Ian.

Spring Dawn quote2

After going through a hair-raising experience in the second book, Michelle feels much less secure in the current book. She’s dissatisfied with life, leans a little more on her friend Jeffrey for friendship while at the same time nothing seems to go her way. This subplot left me yearning for some type of resolution for her.

Jeffrey shares the limelight with Ian and Lizzie. After the events of the second book, Jeffrey resolves to stay closer to God, stay dry and away from former relationships that could lure him back to his old ways. He spends a little more time with Stephen. At the same time, he also resolves to reach out to Michelle in an effort to “be Jesus” to her. Of course, most of these resolutions are tested repeatedly, creating a sense of mystery about his relationship with Michelle. His accident temporarily takes him out of Michelle’s sphere and into the care of his parents. Happily this gives him an opportunity to gain some peace with them.

Spring Dawn quote3

I have thoroughly enjoyed this series so far. Rebekah Lyn’s writing style pulls us into the details of friendships and leads us to care for each of the five friends. The pace of this third book is slower than the previous books, which seems to be intentional in order to develop the tangled web of events, tests, and character development. If you enjoy delving into the details of life, watching how people going through life without God learn about Him and reach out to Him when others are not accessible, then you will enjoy this book.

Additional note: The fourth book in this series is soon to be released. Look for a December wedding!

Spring Dawn quote4

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Where Trust Lies (Return to the Canadian West Bk 2) by Janette Oke and Laurel Oke Logan ~Review~

Where Trust Lies (Return to the Canadian West Bk 2) by Janette Oke and Laurel Oke Logan

Where Trust Lies

Where Trust Lies is the second book in the Return to the Canadian West series. Book 1 is entitled Where Courage Calls. The protagonist of both books is Beth Thatcher who had rejected a life of ease to attend college and then choose to teach in the Canadian West where life was more about a roof over your head and food in your belly than shopping excursions in an upscale store and the latest fashions. That was in book 1. In book 2, Beth has returned home for summer vacation after completing her first year of teaching.

There had always been a gulf between Beth and her mother and youngest sister, Julie. She had hopes she could somehow close that gap over the summer. When she arrived home, she found her family preparing to go on a 6-week cruise from Toronto to the St. Laurence River and on to the east coast, finally moving into the United States before returning. At first she was reluctant to go on the trip, but her father challenged her to get to know her mother as adult to adult, rather than as a daughter to a mother. But Beth had another reason to hesitate. In her year away from home Beth had attracted a suitor–Jarrick “Jack” Thornton, an officer in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. He was stationed out west and Coal Valley, where Beth taught, was part of his jurisdiction. He requested they keep in touch over the summer to become more acquainted with each other. She agreed to write.

Where Trust Lies quote1

When Jarrick learned of this opportunity to travel with her family, he urged Beth to go. They could keep in contact with each other through letters, phone calls and telegrams. So it was decided that Beth would go, albeit a little reluctantly. Not only was Beth’s mother and two sisters going, but so were little JW and his nanny, her mother’s best friend, Mrs. Montclair, her daughter and their maid, and their own tour guide Emile Laurant. Close quarters, differing interests, the rapid pace of events, and personality conflicts kept the pot bubbling with tension and interest. At the apex of the story, Julie was abducted, throwing the small circle of family and friends into turmoil and onto their knees in prayer. None of them were ever the same again.

Where Trust Lies quote2

It was so good to read another of Janette Oke’s books again. I have already read nearly all the books she’s written. Like the first book in this series, her voice is distinct and heart felt. Where the focus is usually historical fiction of the Canadian west, this book explores the historical east. Building community is one of Oke’s writing talents; in this book that legacy continues but within the tight circle of friends and family on the cruise. Writing in tandem with her daughter allows for the sense of contemporary issues as well. The new voice brings with it freshness that nevertheless blends well with the familiar Oke memes. Mother and daughter make a fine writing team.

Another reason I enjoy reading this author’s books is that faith in God is nearly always faith in action. It is the driving force for many of her characters’ actions, yet not portrayed as if these men and women who loved God could do no wrong. It is their inner struggles that brings life to every individual and makes them real to us. The reader can’t help but empathize with people whose faith is neither great nor less than their own. We falter where they falter, and gain courage from the same God these characters draw courage. There’s no preaching here, only life lessons and hope.

Where Trust Lies quote3

Finally, the authors write with humor, keen observation of various personalities amidst the conflicts and employ some fairly intense suspense. There is an undercurrent of romance, especially when Jarrick rushes to Beth’s side at the height of the frightening events of Julie’s abduction, and a strong sense of more to come at the book’s end. Events do resolve, so there is not a cliff-hanger, although not all threads in this book are settled. It seems that there must be at least one more book in this series to come. The issue of trust, dealt with all throughout the book, is not yet completely finalized. I’m looking forward to reading more.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Bethany House for their blogging program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Buttermilk Sky by Jan Watson ~Review~

Buttermilk Sky by Jan Watson

Buttermilk Sky

I admire authors like Jan Watson who can somehow lay aside the present cultural influences and nuances and immerse themselves in the past, populate that world with people who live and breathe in our minds and hearts, and allow us to share in this created world. How do they do that? I love the authors who write contemporary fiction works that come alive as well, but there’s a special place in my heart for writers who dig into the past and then give it to us as if they had just walked the streets themselves and carried on conversations with the characters. They write with authenticity and reality and make the past come alive. I’ve discovered that Ms. Watson, a new author for me, accomplishes this very well.

Buttermilk Sky is a turn-of-the-century tale that follows Jan Watson’s previous historical novels: Tattler’s Branch, Skip Rock Shallows, Still House Pond, Sweetwater Run, and the Troublesome Creek series which includes Troublesome Creek, Willow Springs, and Torrent Falls. The book stands completely on its own although reading her other books would deepen the atmosphere and heighten our appreciation of the sub-culture captured in these books.

Buttermilk Sky quote1

Young Sheriff Chanis Clay is following in his father’s rather large shoes as peacekeeper and law enforcement officer in a Kentucky mountain county and specifically the community of Skip Rock. He loves his work, but has much to learn about human nature and life in general. Still, he feels he’s ready to settle down and has his heart fixed on Mazy Pelfrey for his life’s companion. He loves her and all his dreams and goals include her. He even bought a house and started its renovation. But Mazy is not ready to commit herself to marriage yet. She feels restless and unsettled; she wants to experience a bit of life first. So Mazy leaves her family, her twin, her beau, and her mountain community to live in Lexington, take a secretarial course and make some new friends. Most of this story focuses on Mazy as she tries to find her place as a single girl in life.

Buttermilk Sky quote2

This book was a fun, quick read for me. The author sprinkles in plenty of humor and laughs for both Chanis and Mazy in their separate worlds. The sheriff deals with incidences among the mountain folk with amusing tongue-in-cheek wit. My favorite episode was when he nearly lost Frank Cheney, a giant of a man turned bank robber, when transporting him from one community’s jail to another nearby jail. Eventually, Chanis’ dealing with Frank literally changed his life. Mazy’s way of adapting to city life, trying new foods, wearing new clothes, all the while trying not to look like a country bumpkin, is often rib tickling.

At first, Mazy appeared to me to be a shallow, unthinking piece of fluff, content to imitate everyone else and gain favor with her study group’s leader, Eva, no matter what it took. But eventually she realized the futility of her efforts, and the real Mazy emerged. The Mazy of the final chapters was a 180 degree turn-around from the Mazy of the beginning of the story. Her journey from first to last is what makes this book great reading for women.

Buttermilk Sky quote3

Finally, as a faith-based read, the author includes many thought-provoking moments of revelation for both the main characters, without being preachy. Character development and faith in God with all its practical implications were woven together seamlessly throughout the book. A real, vital relationship with God should be as natural as breathing. The author demonstrates this in her writings. It is something I greatly appreciate among authors I read the most. I am looking forward to reading more books by this author.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book from Netgalley on behalf of Tyndale House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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When Mercy Rains (The Zimmerman Restoration Trilogy, Book 1) by Kim Vogel Sawyer ~review~

When Mercy Rains by Kim Vogel Sawyer

When Mercy Rains

This is a story of family dynamics, secrets, hidden sin and its consequences. Ultimately there is redemption, forgiveness and peace, but the journey from heartbreak to healing is long and rocky, full of twists and unexpected turns, lies and deception. The question that continually ran through my mind while I was reading this book was, “How could such a seemingly invisible act lead to such enormous, far-reaching consequences?”

Suzanne Zimmerman grew up in an Old Order Mennonite community in rural Kansas. But at the age of 17, she suddenly discovered she was to become an unwed mother. She confided this to her mother who immediately made arrangements to send her daughter off to another Mennonite community to adopt the baby out to Suzanne’s cousin Andrew and his wife. But the experience was more traumatic than she expected, and when the time came, she elected to stay in Indianapolis. At the new church where she attended, Suzanne met a couple who essentially adopted her, encouraged her to get her high school graduation equivalent (GED), and schooling for her RN degree. The story picks up twenty years later: Suzanne was now living contentedly on her own, working the night shift as a nurse at a Mennonite missionary hospital. She loved coming home to her apartment where her 19-year-old daughter, Alexa, usually had a meal prepared for them. Alexa was an amazing cook.

When Mercy Rains quote1

Alexa and Suzanne’s lives took a sudden right turn when they received a letter from a younger brother who informed them that Suzanne’s mother was seriously injured in a farming accident and was unable to walk. She was now confined to a wheelchair. Clete wanted Suzanne to return to Arborville to help the family take care of her. For awhile, she was torn about making such a momentous decision, but she finally decided to take a leave of absence of a few months. The really difficult decision to make was whether to take Alexa with her. It meant having to risk revealing a few secrets she had kept from her family, and even from Alexa herself.

Alexa was beside herself with excited anticipation about meeting her family for the first time. She really didn’t know what to expect. She had visualized a joyful, boisterous reunion, happy faces, and welcoming tears. But when that didn’t happen, she realized that no one had known about her. Why hadn’t her mother told them about her? What puzzled her more was the silent tension and apparent resentment her mother was greeted with. But Alexa was made of sterner stuff, and she was determined to melt the ice and win her family over, beginning with her grandmother, Abigail Zimmerman.

When Mercy Rains quote2

While this is a character-driven book dealing mostly with mother/daughter issues, the author manages to ramp up the tension and suspense by revealing only a little bit of information at a time. The reader is forced to make numerous assumptions which turn out to be erroneous when major bumps in the road appear. This is the writing strategy that keeps us on the edge of our seats and turning the pages. Because of this, I managed to read the 344-page book in just a few days.

When Mercy Rains quote3

Another thing I liked about this book is the complexity of the situation. Suzanne had a large family, and her disappearance made ripples that upset the lives of her former boyfriend, all her brothers and sisters, her mother and father, and Alexa. The book explores many of these problem areas while still keeping the focus mainly on Suzanne, her mother, and Alexa. At times, it didn’t look as if any resolution could be reached with Mrs. Zimmerman and some of the family members. But in the end, the seemingly impossible becomes possible and the final events resolve satisfactorily.

Even though the subject matter is serious and the darkness of discord runs constantly throughout the plot line, the author was still able to add moments of humor and light. Suzanne’s former boyfriend, Paul Aldrich, had gotten married after she had left. He had a son Danny before his wife died of cancer. The boy has a great sense of mischief and lends comic relief to the story. Many times, the author also defuses tense moments through Alexa’s light and cheerful personality. One of my favorite funny moments, however, occurred when Mother Zimmerman, Suzanne, Alexa, and Shelley took a day trip to Wichita. Just when you think Shelley’s bad attitude would ruin the trip for the women, Mrs. Zimmerman’s former wry humor finally broke through the awkwardness and anger. It was a moment of hope and a turning point in the story.

When Mercy Rains quote4

Finally, in spite of the fact this is not a romance story, Suzanne’s former love interest is another major element of the story because Paul is the carpenter refitting the house to accommodate the wheelchair. He is constantly present and both Paul and Suzanne realize they must come to terms with their former relationship and their current feelings for each other. Unfortunately, this is one of the threads that remains unresolved by the end of the book. But I have hopes it will be settled in the next book, which focuses on Alexa’s new life among the Zimmermans.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Waterbrook Press and the website, Blogging for Books. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

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Somehow, Christmas Will Come by Peggy Blann Phifer ~Review~

Somehow, Christmas Will Come by Peggy Blann Phifer

Somehow Christmas Will Come

Somehow, Christmas Will Come is a beautifully written family story which has seen so much tragedy in their young lives. The one most impacted by the world gone wrong is a little 6 year old girl by the name of Bethany. At the age of 5, she lost her mother. At the age of 6, she loses her father. How will she survive?

Molly Dugan, Bethany’s aunt is only twenty-one. She has just been laid off and in spite of her foster parents’ plea for her to stay with them as long as she liked, she decided to visit her older brother and his family first. Only the year before, he had lost his wife to a serious boating accident. Molly had not been able to attend the funeral because of her work schedule. Patrick lived in Los Vegas, across the country from where she lived. Once she had arrived in the city of bright lights, she came to know Bethany’s grandmother, Jessie Baker, who lived just a few blocks away. She and Jessie became close friends, sharing in their love for Patrick and the precocious little Bethie.

butterfly struggle to fly

It soon became apparent to Molly that her brother Pat was not over grieving the loss of his wife Jaime. It seemed he had taken to drinking to deal with his grief. This hit Molly hard, because Patrick had never used alcohol before. In his teen years he was a rock, and never seemed to be tempted by liquor. But now he was downing straight vodka and had been doing so for at least a year. She wondered if he was putting his job at risk. Later on, she learned that Pat’s best friend, Trace, would cover for him. How long would that last before Pat hit rock bottom?

Months later, when Molly had made the decision to stay with her brother and Jessie and Bethie, the unthinkable happened. Patrick, while drinking, took his motorcycle out and was killed in a collision. His best friend Trace Whitcomb had the unenviable task of conveying the news to the little family.

yet_ULove_me

Trace became a tower of strength and comfort to the grieving women and little girl. He spent as much time as possible helping them deal with this final blow. Trace was also the key to helping Bethany through her denial that her daddy was finally gone, since he had been a part of their little family long before Molly came to live in Nevada. Trace was single and had no family of his own. How this family survives so much turmoil is what makes this book such a great story.

There are several aspects about this author’s writing I really enjoyed. The first is how well she penned the dynamics of Patrick Dugan’s family. She uses wit and humor to flesh out Patrick’s character, how he lovingly fathered his daughter, handled his job professionally, and grieved his wife quietly. In spite of the emotional toll of so many problems the family faced, there were lighter moments that caused me to laugh out loud and tugged at my heart.

The second aspect I liked is the development of a new face in the story after Patrick was gone, that of Trace Whitcomb. His place in the family dynamics is crucial to their survival. He quickly became a key player. It was exciting to read how a grandmother, an aunt, a first grader and a best friend became a new family unit for Bethany’s sake. Of course, it was not perfect. There were the usual issues to deal with and even a bit of a surprise at the end. But all that put together is what makes this book a joy to read.

Trust in Jesus He handles it

Finally, there is a romantic element that develops between Molly and Trace. The author makes this part of the story seem natural rather than unrealistic or obtrusive, as it may very well have become. Kudos to the author for making it all fit together so well.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from The Book Club Network on behalf of the author. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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The Last Queen of Sheba: A Novel by Jill Francis Hudson ~Review~

The Last Queen of Sheba: A Novel by Jill Francis Hudson

The Last Queen of Sheba

Back in my high school years, I learned to love historical fiction for its ability to stretch my imagination, allow me to see life through eyes other than my own, and feel for others I didn’t know. Christian historical fiction was rare during my young years. Its development lagged behind secular historical fiction; Bible-based fiction was even slower yet, dragging its heels for fear of minimizing the accounts of events in the Bible. What has been published so far is a mixed bag of literature. I’ve seen some beautifully written books which transport us back in time and enhances our head knowledge and nudges us toward a more satisfying state of heart knowledge; in the extreme situations, a few results were less desirable, distorting truth or completely leading a reader in a different direction. The Last Queen of Sheba is one of the greats.

Critics or purists who prefer Bible stories to be free of fictionalization may not care for the concept of this book since its premise is based on just a few lines of scripture in the Old Testament–the meeting of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon, David’s son. Yet, I found the book incredibly insightful and supportive of Biblical precepts. The book is professionally detailed: a book that speculates how “it could have happened.” In my opinion, Christian historical fiction and its sub-genre of biblical fiction has arrived and can easily stand on its own, thanks to many awesome writers who know Christian principles and their Bible, and owing greatly to the wonderful resources available in libraries and on the web. Special kudos goes out to Jill Francis Hudson for this epic tale of two young rulers.

As far as I can discern, there are four basic divisions in the story line:

  1. Events leading up to choosing Makeda as Queen of Sheba. Once she was chosen, there was a certain amount of political turmoil she had to overcome. Then some troubling events led to Makeda’s decision to visit King Solomon of Israel.
  2. The Queen of Sheba’s actual visit with Solomon.
  3. The Queen’s return to Sheba and her rule of her country from her family palace in Yeha, Ethiopia.
  4. The Consequences of Sheba’s visit. Some loose ends are resolved, while we read about the downfall of Solomon.

The Last Queen of Sheba quote1

The story is told in the first person by Tamrin, the Merchant. The wealthy merchant has traveled extensively and amassed for himself riches and an an enterprising business with contacts all over Arabia, Egypt, Ethiopia and even Israel and its neighbors. In fact, his most recent visit with Solomon garnered him a commission from the King for materials needed to embellish the Temple he was building for God. In addition to conducting business with Solomon, Tamrin treasured the philosophical discussions with the wise and humble man. The young king wanted his friend to know his God, Adonai, as well. Their talks gave Tamrin much to think about on his long journeys through the deserts.

Tamrin was a distant cousin to Makeda in Yeha, but because of their ages, she called him Uncle Tamrin. He looked on her as the daughter or niece he never had. He was always visiting her and bringing her exotic gifts from his travels. She was as pure, honest, intelligent and kind as her father was corrupt, dishonest, churlish, and cruel. He kept her in isolation in his compound in Yeha where the two rarely saw each other. She was of African/Arabian descent and beautiful. It was no wonder she was chosen as Sheba’s queen.

The Last Queen of Sheba quote2

This book is much more than just a political commentary of a remote queen. Through the author’s skillful writing and storytelling ability, people jump off the pages and become real. The conflicts grip us and become personal to us. When Queen Makeda returned from Israel, she turned her country on its head. She introduced many reforms that turned an oppressed people into prosperous citizens. She brought from Israel principles from the law of Moses that turned her country from “an uneasy, unstable agglomeration of disparate tribes whose only reason for suppressing their mutual hatred was the fact that they hated non-Shebans more” to a country that worshiped and honored God (Adonai).

Twenty years after Makeda was chose Queen of Sheba, Tamrin the Merchant had to return to Jerusalem with a representative of Sheba’s royal council. In contrast to Sheba’s now orderly, happy and prosperous state, what greeted his eyes shocked and distressed him. Israel decline was evident everywhere he looked. Even more shocking was King Solomon himself. He appeared haggard and even older than the merchant. The reason for such a decline was heart-rending. That is something you’ll discover when you read this book. Tamrin was not even as welcome as before, until Solomon met the Sheban emissary. Eventually they returned to Sheba with sad news for Queen Makeda, but with something important for the people and for God’s temple in Yeha.

The Last Queen of Sheba quote3

What I like best about this book is the meticulous detail the author uses to make the settings and circumstances interesting and relevant for the reader. By researching the Kebra Nagast, the national Ethiopian epic, Islamic and Jewish legends and literature and archaeological information, Ms. Hudson was able to move way beyond common knowledge to treat her readers to so much fascinating detail.

While I felt the beginning of the tale was a little slow moving, once the events ramped up so did the action and suspense. The remainder of the story was intense and terse; I had a hard time finding a place to stop reading when I needed to. The beginning set-up is filled with necessary background information, making the faster moving accounts flow more naturally and easier to comprehend. This is definitely one of my favorite biblically-based historical fiction books of all time. I will be looking for this author’s other works as soon as I can. I highly recommend this book for high school, college age and older readers. As for younger readers than I just mentioned, the subject material may be a bit more mature than they can handle. If I were to rate the book, it would be given a PG-13 rating for some adult topics.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from The Book Club Network on behalf of the author and Kregel Publications. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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