A Light on the Hill: Cities of Refuge Book 1 By Connilyn Cossette

a light on the hill

 

A light on the Hill, is another beautifully written story by author Connilyn Cossette.  This woman is a fantastic, gifted writer that I can’t say enough about.  Her stories bring alive the Bible times and bestow upon you the sense that you walk with her characters, that they are truly within your reach as you envision their story, feelings and ultimately their individual relationships with God.

One of the main reasons I enjoy reading this authors stories, besides her gift of storytelling, is how she chooses to use names for her Characters.  For instance, she uses “Yahweh” for God as is used in the Jewish faith.  For Joshua we read, “Yehoshua” and Moses becomes, “Mosheh”.  The research that has been done is so evident and adds to the compelling style of the author.   At the back of the book, the author shares how she developed her storyline.  She mentions reading in Joshua 20 and being caught up in the idea of the cities of refuge and how they beckoned to her.  The author also mentions her research taken from Book V of The Antiquities of the Jews.  It is very clear that the author delves into ancient times and Biblical teaching to provide as many true facts as possible to base her fictional characters and story.

In A Light on the Hill, our main character is one that we met earlier during the series, Out of Egypt: Wings of the Wind. She wasn’t a main character but still an important one that left an impression not only on the reader but the author as she mentions in her notes that she knew Moriyah would be the heroine in the next book.  Moriyah’s past has filled her with fear which has also allowed misplaced shame to trap her in a prison of her own making.  Through this fear and shame, she has done what so many of us have…. shut God out.  Moriyah wears a veil on the outside, but on the inside, she also has a veil blocking her from hearing God’s whispers.  She believes God has forsaken her, but she is the one who has forsaken him and kept him behind that inner veil.  I think that is a message many of us can relate to.

In A Light on the Hill, Moriyah must leave her life and learn to break the shackles of her “prison” when accused of a heinous crime.  Along the way she finds she is to travel with someone she can’t fully trust, one she feels betrayed her, and even hates her…. but one who holds her heart.  As she travels to find sanctuary at one of the cities of refuge, Moriyah learns who she is and what she is capable of.  She also learns that the shame she has placed upon herself isn’t truly there and that others may not view her as she has thought. As events begin to heat up she realizes God has never forsaken her and all she must do is simply remove the veil and trust God with her life and those she loves.

Moriyah’s life isn’t pain free…. whose life is?  The beauty of this story shows that life can be hard, but we are never alone and all we have to do is trust God and his plans for us.  Have faith and allow God to lead you and listen for those whispers.  How beautiful is that?

Connilyn Cossette is one of my favorite authors and I am so thrilled have read each of her books.  They are beautiful, compelling, and vivid.  The imagery is so surreal that I feel as if the characters are acting out a scene right in front of me and when that last page is turned, I feel like shouting because I am not ready for an end.

 

Author’s Bio:

connilyn cossette

Connilyn Cossette is the Christy Award Nominated and CBA-Bestselling author of the Out from Egypt Series from Bethany House Publishers. There’s not much she enjoys more than digging into the rich, ancient world of the Bible, discovering new gems of grace that point to Jesus, and weaving them into an immersive fiction experience. Connect with her at http://www.ConnilynCossette.com

A Passionate Hope: Hannah’s Story by Jill Eileen Smith

HANNAH'S STORY

I had started a few months ago by reviewing another series and still plan to continue with it but after a little detour.  I have two very wonderful authors who write in the Christian Fiction genre that have new books out, so I am excited about them and wanted to make sure I got my review posted as they are very newly published.

I am a confusing individual….  One moment I am reading MC Romance Fiction and the next Christian fiction followed by a textbook of some sort after.  I can never get enough to read or to learn.  I wonder if you are like that as well.  When I can add a fact or two in a discussion and people look at me in surprise and ask, “how in the world do you know that?”  I just laugh and tell them I read all kinds of books and you never know what I have stored away.  It can be priceless depending on the bit of information I put out there!

Why Christian Fiction?  I am a Christian who is always searching for something I have yet to put my finger on.  I want more, more, more but what is the more I am looking for?  I don’t know.  When I read I feel I am getting closer to knowing what that might be, but I am still not sure. It seems closer, but still too far away.  What I can say about reading fiction is that if I can find a lesson I need to give more thought to then I have found a wonderful author and story.  If that author can make me understand a Bible story that has been a little vague or make me see it in a whole new light with new possibilities, then I have found something worthwhile.

Jill Eileen Smith has done precisely that with her newest book, “A Passionate Hope: Hannah’s Story”.  When I heard this book was coming out, I wanted to read it, but I also didn’t.  Hannah’s story has always made me so sad and because of that, I kept thinking …. “No, I can’t, I’m not ready”.  Hannah was placed in such a sad situation.  She had married expecting to have children but didn’t and all believe she never would.  Then she was delivered of another blow.  Her husband took another wife and she would have to share him.  Could it get any worse for such a woman?  Yes, she received blow after blow of mocking and hatred from not only others but this second wife of her beloved husband’s who gave him the children she desired.  For years, Hannah pleaded for God to deliver her a child and then came the day in grief and desolation Hannah made a vow to God.  If he gave her the son she desperately wanted, she would give him back to God when he was old enough to leave her.  Hannah fulfills that vow to God.  Would I have had the strength to do so?  No…. simply no.

 

Jill Eileen Smith brings Hannah story alive and creates a beautiful story of love, acceptance, trust and ultimately forgiveness.  Hannah truly loves the Lord, and even after years of being barren, of being mocked, of feeling that she has lost her beloved husband, she still placed her trust in God.  We read of a woman who was kind even to her “enemy” the second wife of her husband who treated her so badly.  We read of a woman whose trust in God would be greatly rewarded.

But let me tell you what else we read…. we read of a husband who is pulled in so many directions that he cannot grasp what to do and the stress is heavy on his heart.  He loves Hannah as his beloved and it did not matter if she was barren or not for she is all he wanted.  However, his family intervenes and pushes him to take a second wife.  Elkanah is devastated but does as his family and even Hannah has asked of him.  He knows not what to do to bring peace in his family, and he hurts for the pain he knows Hannah hides.  His beloved is his heart and although he cares for his second wife and loves the children she gave him, he is not fully at peace.

We also read about the second wife and her view.  Her jealousy of Hannah, her love of Elkanah and the pain of feeling unwanted.  It was indeed an eye-opener to view Hannah’s nemesis in a different light. And there is one of the lessons…. what is behind the actions of others?

The dynamics of the family unit created by Elkanah and his two wives are shown by the author to have suspicion, jealousy, hatred, and so much pain. Through these dynamics and the ending, she provides, the author gives the reader some thoughts to dwell on.  A Christian will not help but think are we living up to the example Hannah set in her love of God?  Have we placed our complete trust in God as she did through the storms we face in our lives?

 

“A Passionate Hope: Hannah’s Story” is beautiful and one you will enjoy from the first to the last page.  I hope you give it chance and I would love to hear your comments and if you feel the same as I do.

Enjoy Hannah’s story!

 

Wings of the Wind by Connilyn Cossette

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Wings of the Wind, book three in the Out of Egypt series by Connilyn Cossette is another amazing story by this author!  I have enjoyed everyone her books and each leaves me in a state of awe.

I am a true believer that if you read a story in which the author has you putting yourself in the place of the characters and thinking of their circumstances to gain a true sense of the author’s storyline, then you have found an author above the norm.  Each of the books in this series has accomplished that.

The writing style that Ms. Cossette uses is beautiful in how she develops her story’s and her characters.   For instance, the main female character in Wings of the Wind is Alanah, a Canaanite.  Alanah has lost everything…..her father, brothers, and her home to the war with the Hebrews.  When she makes the decision to fight as a man, she does so believing she will not see the next sunrise.  But Yahweh has plans for Alanah that she could not have expected.  Tobiah, a Hebrew warrior, finds Alanah on the battlefield and rescues her.  The Hebrew law is clear in the expectation that Tobiah will have to marry Alanah to protect her.  As Alanah learns the Hebrew ways she is confused by her own beliefs and those of Tobiah.  Ms. Cossette gives a wonderful look in to Alanah’s thoughts with this passage:

“If I submitted to this marriage, I was turning my back on everything I knew.”

Isn’t that what God asks us to do when we are reborn? To leave behind our lives of sin to live the life He has planned for us.  The character Alanah is shown to be under a great deal of stress and confusion as she begins the path Yehweh has set for her.  I think we can all relate to those feelings.

Beyond the use of characters and their circumstances, Ms. Cosstte had me really thinking on the issue of Manna.  The Bible tells the story in Exodus, of God providing Manna for his children who wandered the desert for 40 years.  I have read that story so many times, yet I don’t believe I gave it as much deliberation as I did when reading this story.  Ms. Cossette describes the character’s daily gathering of Manna, making meals, and strictly following Yehweh’s law regarding how much to gather.  For some of the characters eating the Manna became a hardship, a mundane habit that they couldn’t wait to be done with.  They had lost the heavenly quality of the Manna and looked upon it as if it was a chore or an expectation and not the awesome gift it was.  Alanah, with a fresh outlook and newly opened eyes looks upon the offering of Yehweh as it was meant to be… a gift that had no equal.  While reading of Alanah’s experiences, I couldn’t help but wonder what did Manna truly look and taste like.  I posted on Facebook and found my friend’s remarks interesting.  Some felt it was a substance similar to pita bread, others mentioned an earthy quality such as mushrooms and my Pastor’s wife being the funny woman she is said Chicken….after all everything taste like chicken! I have finally decided for me, I want to have Manna as one of my treasures stored away in Heaven waiting for me.  I want to try it so that I can answer my own question of what did Manna look and taste like.

Connilyn Cossette has given us a story that is full of interesting characters, some fictional from her own thoughts and then as with Rahab she weaves a larger picture to bring this Biblical woman into her storyline.  The story itself is spellbinding, encouraging, and thoughtful.  I have to admit that I am saddened to read that this will be the last in this series, but knowing Ms. Cossette has plans to bring a new story to life is heartening.  I cannot stress the how much I enjoy this writer’s evoking style.  As a reader, you can truly read how much Ms. Cossette has put into her story and the scope of dynamics brings so much to characters.  I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.  This is one series I believe is worth having on my shelf!

 

Amazon:   https://www.amazon.com/Wings-Wind-Out-Egypt-Book-ebook/dp/B01MUHIJOR/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1498347274&sr=8-1&keywords=wings+of+the+wind

Barnes & Nobel:   https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/wings-of-the-wind-connilyn-cossette/1124824750?ean=9780764218224

Christianbook.com:   https://www.christianbook.com/wings-of-the-wind-3/connilyn-cossette/9780764218224/pd/218224?event=ESRCG

 

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The Sapphire Bride by Cynthia Woolf

sapphire bride

The Sapphire Bride is an endearing western romance by Cynthia Woolf and is the second book in her newest series, The Central City Brides.  The brides, of course, are mail order requested by men out west.  In this series, Cynthia Woolf, has created the scenario that the brides are coming with “baggage” that means to kill them.  The grooms are friends and seem to be following the first in ordering brides and become very protective of their brides against their enemies.

In the Sapphire Bride Ava is an independent woman from New York who designs jewelry.  Because the social restrictions of the times, Ava can’t exactly get ahead with her own business there.  She is in her mid-twenties and doesn’t believe she will marry because, after all, how many men would let her continue with her own dream?  Her twin brother, Jeffrey who is an Archeologist, understands her and encourages her dream.

When Jeffrey arrives on her doorstep wounded and dying, he shares with her a secret and news that the men after him will also come after her.  In order to flee quickly, Ava signs on as a mail order bride leaving the next day.  Her destination is Central City where she will marry Seamus Madigan, better known as “Lucky”.

Lucky is a saloon owner and wants a wife and children.  What he has to offer is absolutely NO love, a saloon as their home and a painful past.  He doesn’t want a wife whom he must babysit when he has a business to run.  When his new wife, “Jane Ava Smith” arrives he is more than ready to begin on those children, doesn’t mind her jewelry designing, and continually hurts with his “I don’t love you” comments.

Lucky and Ava have some truths to face when they are confronted by the malicious revenge of a spurned woman and men bent on thievery and murder.  Can Lucky save Ava?  Will Ava trust and forgive Lucky?  What will happen when they must face a devastating loss?

Ms. Woolf writes a story that I call a clean, charming western that is a quick read.  There are interactions with the characters from the first book in the series, which I haven’t read yet but I must say I didn’t feel I needed to in order to understand this story.  Sapphire Bride is stand-alone even though it is part of a series.  From what I picked up there is the continued theme that the brides are coming to Central City with danger close behind them.  Both brides so far are also from New York which I don’t know if all in the series will be or just these two, but it was an opening for the “brides” to open up to each other and speak of home.  The reader was also given a glimpse of the other male friends in the group and now will have to wait to see who will be the next to order his mail order bride.  My assumption and it is strictly my personal guess as I haven’t read anything on what to expect, but I believe there are two more friends left which would mean two more books for the series.

Chemistry of Magic by Patricia Rice

Chemistry of Magic

Another fantastic tale in the Malcolm-Ives family by Patricia Rice.  I have not found another author who can spin the tale that combines the romantic pairing of a man of science and a woman of magic like Patricia Rice.  Her Malcolm-Ives stories are now in the second generation from when she first started them several years ago.  The two families have a history that first began with a pairing of the families that would cause a rift that would find closure as they families find themselves bound by marriage time and again.  Each of these marriages unites a man and a woman so different in character, yet once their differences are accepted by the couple they are melded together through the strongest love.

In Chemistry of Magic, we learn of two people who decide to marry for the benefit of convenience.  A man dying and woman desperate decide that the only acceptable course to follow is to unite in marriage.  Sounds easy, right?  Maybe a little too easy in the world of science and magic and the Malcolm and Ives families.

Viscount “Devil” Dare, is dying of consumption and his only heir is his obnoxious cousin who threatens to throw Dare’s Mother and sisters out of their home.  As he struggles daily with his deteriorating health, his only worry is how to provide for his family when he is gone.  He uses his scientific mind, to run test after test with no answers to his cure.

Emilia McDowell is a distant relative to the Malcolm family and as all Malcolm’s she possesses her own magical gift.  Emilia can heal with her touch, but to do so she suffers through the same pain.  Along with this gift of healing, Emilia dreams of publishing her life work…. A pharmacopeia.  But to do this, Emilia must marry for her to receive her inheritance.

Emilia and Dare marry for their mutual benefit.  She will use her inheritance to not only secure housing for Dare’s family but also gain her laboratory to continue her studies and complete her pharmacopeia.  A marriage of convenience that would lack love and would only last as long as Dare lives.  But neither anticipated how powerful fate is and how love would come along.

As Emilia and Dare work toward fulfilling each of their plans, a few surprises come along that will alter what they believed to be true which may, in turn, alter those plans.  But never fear, a few of the earlier Malcolm-Ives characters we have grown to love will make appearances to help Emilia and Dare.

Patricia Rice never lets me down when I read her stories.  I love her characters immensely with my favorites being the Malcolm-Ives.  Each story can be read as a stand-alone, however, I really would encourage reading all the Malcolm-Ives (the first and then this second generation) in order to truly value the wonderful world of science and magic coming together.

Aura of Magic by Patricia Rice

aura of magic imageAura of Magic is the newest release by the marvelous magic spinner Patricia Rice and continues the Malcolm-Ives family tales.  It is finally Uncle Pascoe’s turn at Ms. Rice’s enchanting imagination into the world of melding magic and science that ends in a burst of applause!

Uncle Aaron Pascoe-Ives, the youngest illegitimate son of the late Marquess who was raised with his nephews due to their close ages, has worked for the king in hopes of achieving his own Knighthood.  He prefers to be recognized as Pascoe, often dropping the Ives to remain separated from the family. Pascoe is a covert spy who easily blends in to learn secrets that will aid his king.  It is on one of these missions that Pascoe must either fight to continue with his carefully planned future goals or decide if it is time to change them.

Lily, Pascoe’s wife has passed away leaving him with two adorable but precocious toddlers that has him frustrated.  Nannies come and go with no one able to control them.  Just as the king gives him his newest assignment investigating trouble brewing in the north, the latest nannie leaves in tears.  Pascoe now must take his toddlers with him and hope they can stay with his family.

Edward and Emma are Pascoe’s children.  They have not spoken to anyone but seem to communicate with each other and the spirit of Lily who hovers over them in protection and guidance.  Lily tells Edward and Emma they must go with their father to meet their new Momma.  When Pascoe learns of this I don’t know if he is more shocked that his children have spoken or that they are saying such far-fetched things such as getting a new Momma!

Bridey has lived as a Countess since marrying her husband at the age of 16.  She has given her heart to helping the women and children of her area to survive the harshness their lives face.  Betrayed by those she sought to help, Bridey has hardened herself to the point she has gained the nickname of “the Ice Queen”.  With her plans to start a school to teach women about their own care as well as that of their children, Bridey refuses to give into her own heart.  With her Malcolm family gifts and her own dreams, Bridey moves forward to make her plans a reality.  But Bridey never counted on meeting two beautiful toddlers, the most handsome man ever, a thief or a host of spirits waiting to make her change her mind.

I truly believe this is my favorite of the newest generation of Malcolm-Ives descendants.  I love the solid strength of reality that Pascoe possess along with the denial of his Malcolm gifts from Lady Ninian Malcolm.  What he considers ordinary and not worth a second thought are in fact gifts set in magic!  I also enjoyed how the story was written with two characters so strong in their convictions to obtain their personal goals that they lost track of using compromise to fit in more than just the narrow tunnel vision they possessed in making their goals a reality.  With a little help from magic, will Pascoe and Bridey finally see what is right in front of them?

One comment made in the story was of a library regarding the Ives men and their progeny as the women have for the special gifts associated with the Malcolm women.  I would really like to see this happen in a future book of Ms. Rice’s.  I think it would be an interesting storyline for someone to hunt down the past and record it for the future of the Ives men.

Next in line for release is the title, “Chemistry of Magic”.  Of course, the except included in “Aura of Magic” shows another wonderful story to read.

Shadow of the Storm by Connlyn Cossette

 

shadow-of-the-storm

Last year I read a new author of Christian Fiction and she totally amazed me.  Her story came alive from word to word on every page and more importantly her story made me stop and look inward to answer some hard questions about my personal relationship with God.  I can’t tell you how often pieces of that story came to me even months after I read it.  I couldn’t wait for the next book in her series to come out.  I knew what I expected from this author by this point and she didn’t disappoint.

Connilyn Cossette has published book two in the Out of Egypt Series, Shadow of the Storm.   This series is based upon the Exodus that God’s people experienced when they left Egypt and the slavery they were forced to endure at the hands of their Egyptian masters.  The characters that soon became loved and cherished in book one, Counted Among the Stars, are seen again as their lives continue to unravel from the old and become new with God’s help.  Counted Among the Stars was focused on the life of a young Egyptian girl, Kiya, who went from a pampered life to one of slavery alongside the Hebrews.  She was befriended by another slave, a Hebrew girl and through their friendship God was introduced to her. The story for book one, was central to her but we were introduced to Shira whose story is told in Shadow of the Storm.

Shira’s character is a young woman with a beautiful soul and heart for God.  She is kind, compassionate and giving to those she loves.  Connilyn Cossette brings us a young woman who is shown a life she wants as a midwife but Shira must consider her family and the livelihood that she is expected to follow.  Can she go against her Mother’s wishes? But her heart has been captured and with it a way to embrace even a part of the life she never thought she would have after an act of cruelty left her with little choice

Being a midwife isn’t the only dream Shira comes to hope for.  Shira comes to know her brother’s friend, Ayal.  A man, she believes to be honorable and caring.  She begins to trust him and hope for a future for the two of them only to have that come crashing down.   When events cause Shira to face some truths about Ayal it also forces her to face some decisions on what she wants.

Through the storms that invade her life, Shira must learn to trust in the Lord and understand that whatever may come, God will remain with her.  One of my favorite passages in the story that reflects the title and what life brings us:

“We have to endure the storms, dear one so we know how deep our roots go.  So we can appreciate the depths of our strength and the freshness of the gentle breezes afterward”

If you enjoy reading fictional stories that bring the Bible to life, this is an author you want to read.  Her characters are so real and their lives so completely dimensional that you are transfixed from beginning to end.  This is truly a wonderful and captivating story!