I read Paradise Lost in a college literature class many years ago, but I still remember how it wrenched my heart. Milton’s portrayal of the perfection...more I read Paradise Lost in a college literature class many years ago, but I still remember how it wrenched my heart. Milton’s portrayal of the perfection of Adam and Eve’s Garden of Eden made me long to to go there, and his description of how they lost it all through one rash choice made me weep.
Tosca Lee’s Havah: the story of Eve is a modern version of the same story, and I loved it too. I loved getting the chance to imagine along with Lee what happened between the verses of Genesis. She puts flesh on the few enigmatic bits of information we are given, and her extrapolations ring true. I wish that she had developed the description of Eden more, especially God’s communion with Adam and Eve. This would have made the contrast to life after the Fall all the more horrifying. But what she does give us is wonderful and beautifully poetic and mysterious. In the opening pages of the book, Eve recounts her first moments of life. God has just filled her lungs with his divine breath and she sees Adam for the first time:
Wake! [God tells her] I opened my eyes upon the milling blue, saw it spliced by the flight of a bird, chevron in the sky. This time, the voice came not in my ear, but directly to my stirring mind: Wake! There was amusement in it.[I love this!] I knew nothing of where or what I was, did not understand the polyphony around me or the wide expanse like a blue eternity before me. But I woke and knew that I was alive… The face disappeared and returned, blinking into my own, the blue above captured in twin pools. Then, like a gush of water from a rock, gladness thrilled my heart. But its source was not me. “At last!” … He thumped his chest and shouted to the sun and clapped his hands. “At last!” … Though I did not understand the utterance, I knew its meaning at once: joy and exultation at something longed for suddenly found.
In Lee’s version the days of creation are not a literal seven. But neither are Adam and Eve a pair of grunting cavemen in need a few millennia of evolution. They are glowing and perfect, fresh from the Creator’s hand, healthy and complete in ways I can only imagine. Eve is filled with joy in herself, in Adam, and in her Creator.
On one lovely occasion, she runs on strong legs, just for the sheer happiness of it. And as she does, she senses the presence of “The One,” at her side, laughing in pleasure at the way she is enjoying his creation.
Each moment of every day brings new things to learn and explore and do in the Garden with Adam in perfect harmony and understanding. Their love for each other is complete and unselfish. Their senses are are finely tuned so that they can communicate even without words. And then they sin and everything changes. When Eve awakes the day after the Fall she thinks at first her ears are plugged:
Suddenly I realized: the symphony—that blended chorus of all living things that had been with me since the day of my creation—was gone, replaced by a dull drone. It came then like a squall in a white-hot flush of silent fear and dread: We had done the thing we were not to do.… I hid my face against [Adam’s] shoulder, but he did not clasp me.… Oh, God, what have we done?
Later, when God comes looking for them, Adam throws her under the bus with his hurtful, blaming words, “the woman you gave me…” For the rest of their lives, and they have over 900 years to think about what they have done, they never can completely forgive each other. And their distrust and misunderstanding make for a dysfunctional family—the first of untold millions of them. And Eve comes to realize that it was their sin—the original one and the ones that followed—that led inevitably to Cain’s murder of Abel. And thus, all their hopes are dashed that Cain would be the one God had promised to crush the serpent, allowing them back into the Garden.
Lee creates believable three-dimensional characters. But I was surprised at how sympathetically she painted Cain, leaving out his callous words, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” And there is only a hint of a distinction between Cain’s line and the godly line of Seth that would lead to the One who would indeed destroy the serpent. I haven’t read the reviews, but no doubt theologians have already picked apart her work for this or other reasons.
No, Havah is not a theological treatise. But it does—as all Christian fiction should—tell the truth about the nature of God and mankind. And it did cause me to think, cause me to glorify God, and cause me to re-read the biblical account of Creation.
Lee made Adam and Eve so real to me that this morning in church I suddenly thought how overjoyed they would have been to live long enough to meet the Second Adam, the Lamb we worship as our Redeemer. But silly me, when they awakened in Heaven they did meet Him. And I can’t wait to meet them. (less)
The Covering is unabashedly a Christian novel with a clear salvation message, but without excessive jargon and preachiness....moreThe Covering
Getting It Real
The Covering is unabashedly a Christian novel with a clear salvation message, but without excessive jargon and preachiness. Ms Pratola found fresh and natural ways to present the message all wrapped up in an exciting romance. Gunnar is the perfect mysterious and dangerous hero, and Tessa’s love (and God’s) breaks through his hard shell to the love-starved man inside in delicious romance novel fashion.
Tessa and Gunnar are realistic and appealing characters, but I was surprised how much I liked the minor character of the pastor. He was particularly interesting, not at all the sappy stereotype of so many novels. My eyes popped open wide when he related his past to Gunnar. Now, that’s getting real with people!
Ms Pratola entertained me and also inspired me. I’ll be praying to be more like Tessa, sensitive to the pain in others, and like the pastor, willing to be totally transparent. (less)
Fantasies of other worlds are not my usual cup of tea, but having received this free on Kindle, I decided to try it and found I really liked it. The c...moreFantasies of other worlds are not my usual cup of tea, but having received this free on Kindle, I decided to try it and found I really liked it. The characters and the world they live in were nicely drawn and richly complex. Tera is thrust from her gentle world of the Shahala people into that of the Kadar, a cruel and violent world of war. It is not a good place in which to be a woman. They are not respected but made either servants or concubines.. .until she meets Batumar, the battle-scarred High Lord of Kador.
I was amused by the garbled and superstitious oral history of their world, but I kept thinking it would begin to clearly intersect with Earth's history. It didn't as far as I could tell, which disappointed me. And although there were a few gaps and confusing parts (maybe not so many for fantasy fans)I enjoyed the epic good vs. evil plot. And I agree with the author's theme: As much as lies within us we should live in peace. But there comes a time when we must stand and fight against evil.
I'm glad Ms. Marton's story finally is out for everyone to read. Silly publishers! Yay for direct/self publishing! by Deborah Heal, author of Unclaimed Legacy, book two of the Time and Again trilogy.(less)
Thanks, Ms. Mitchell, for all the meticulous historical research you did to make The Messenger shine. Reading a story se...moreThe Messenger by Siri Mitchell
Thanks, Ms. Mitchell, for all the meticulous historical research you did to make The Messenger shine. Reading a story set in Revolutionary War time was a refreshing change, and I appreciated the chance to learn more about the occupation of Philadelphia. No history teacher ever explained so well why the colonists went to war over such practices as the British quartering soldiers in their homes. The author highlighted out the political complexities of that volatile time, and called attention to the horrible conditions in which prisoners were held. Her exquisite writing put me right there in jail with them, and I wanted to get out pronto. And the author’s respectful treatment of the Quakers gave me a fuller appreciation for the beliefs of the Quakers, some of which I can ascribe to, but others not.
All that may give the impression this book would only be of interest to history buffs. But it's much more than that. The plot kept me hooked and I loved getting to know the characters—from Quakers and barkeepers to Colonial debutantes and occupying Redcoat officers. The protagonists were good without being syrupy, and I was truly was interested to see how they would solve their moral dilemmas. Overall, a great story, which I will recommend to others. by Deborah Heal, author of Unclaimed Legacy. http://www.deborahheal.com
I didn't expect to like this book but I did. I think you will too.
Honestly, I wondered if a book about 13-year-olds skating and playing hockey would h...moreI didn't expect to like this book but I did. I think you will too.
Honestly, I wondered if a book about 13-year-olds skating and playing hockey would hold my interest. After all, I’m a grown woman—and definitely not a sports fan. But Crossovers was a great story that went way beyond sports. And the themes and issues were a lot more important than the typical washed up coach helps the underdog team overcome all odds and go on to win the championship heartwarming story that I’m a little tired of. Oh, it was about sports, but done in a fresh way. Ms. Hardy adds just the right amount of skating terminology and facts to be interesting and believable. But beyond that, her character faces issues that are much more important, in my estimation, than worrying about winning the next competition. Ben struggles to understand gender expectations, to appreciate those who are different, to be a loyal friend even if he risks being stuck with the “loser” label. I really appreciated the deft way Ms. Hardy weaves in Christian values is such a natural way—something I strive to do myself. So even though the characters were thirteen-year-olds, I was drawn into their world and enjoyed getting to meet them. So I would recommend this book to anyone twelve and up. (less)
Hasn’t everyone daydreamed of inheriting a fortune and a beautiful house? I don’t hold out much hope of that ever happening to me, but it was fun to v...moreHasn’t everyone daydreamed of inheriting a fortune and a beautiful house? I don’t hold out much hope of that ever happening to me, but it was fun to vicariously experience Michael’s surprise and joy in being able to experience some of life’s finer things, to be able to quit his job and become a full time author. But then Michael finds out that all that is nothing compared to the other gift his grandfather left him. The Discovery is a celebration of God’s sovereign working in the lives of his people. It is part mystery story, part poignant love story, part spy adventure story, and 100% delightful. By Deborah Heal, author of Unclaimed Legacy, another a story about lost things rediscovered. (less)
I had only read excerpts before and so it was good to read the whole autobiography. It is powerful stuff. With snippets from his life, Gregory paints...moreI had only read excerpts before and so it was good to read the whole autobiography. It is powerful stuff. With snippets from his life, Gregory paints a picture to show us the cruel ways poverty and racism affect those in their grip--physically of course, but also emotionally, and spiritually.
His honesty is staggering--in the personal stories of his own efforts to survive with his dignity intact--and in portraying his own weaknesses and failings, by-products of the cancer of hatred and racism he grew up with.
His amazing fortitude and work ethic helped him rise to fame and economic success, overturning the stereotype of the lazy "Negro." The moment he had money and a platform from which to do so, he waded right into the thick of the civil rights movement to try to make a difference for the future.
And he did make a difference--during his life time, and now as people continue to read his words. Reading his autobiography has taught me more about life, about history, and about the human condition, subjects every author needs to major in. Thank you, Mr. Gregory. (less)
Angel Eyes by Shannon Dittemore Expect More by Dittemore!
I didn’t know until I’d finished reading Angel Eyes that it is Shannon Dittemore’s first novel...moreAngel Eyes by Shannon Dittemore Expect More by Dittemore!
I didn’t know until I’d finished reading Angel Eyes that it is Shannon Dittemore’s first novel. All I can say is Wow! I can’t think of a reason anyone—male or female; old or young; Christian or not—wouldn’t like this story. Ms. Dittemore gives a nod to Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight: Her main character Gabrielle is immediately attracted to Jake the new guy at school—even though he neither sparkles in the sunlight nor sports fangs. But from there she takes us to the much more interesting, relevant (and scarier) world of angels and demons as they duke it out for the souls of hapless humans. I say angels and demons are scarier than vampires (And haven’t we had just about enough of them already?) because they actually exist. They’re usually invisible, of course, but when Jake lends Brielle his guardian’s mysterious golden bracelet (I can’t say more without giving away a cool detail) she gains the gift of eyes that see the spirit world. (No, not ghosts.) And what she sees convinces her her past doubts have been foolish. God is good. God is wise. We don’t have the whole picture. Brielle’s choice is clear. How can she not join Jake in the battle to fight the Evil One’s plans? Ms. Dittemore hints at more books to come. I certainly hope so.
By Deborah Heal, author of Time and Again: Charlotte of Miles Station. I received a copy of Angel Eyes from the author for the honest review above.(less)
I loved T. L. Higley's Pompeii. It begins with the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in A.D. 70, ends with th...morePompeii: City on Fire by T.L. Higley
I loved T. L. Higley's Pompeii. It begins with the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in A.D. 70, ends with the destruction of Pompeii, and yet is a story of redemption and love. Higley pulls few punches when describing the depravity of the Roman Empire. But in the midst of the corruption, God calls people to his kingdom, calls them to stand and fight evil. Cato and Ariella wade through danger and political intrigue among the thrill seekers of the stadium and the debauched followers of Bacchus' evil rites. And when the Gospel breaks down the walls that separate--the walls between male and female, Roman and Jew, free and slave, they find love and hope for the future.
I am so happy to have found T.L. Higley. She delivers the action, excitement, and characters readers long for (in a fascinating historical context) all the while deftly weaving in important Christian themes and ideas. She's my hero.
I purchased this book from Amazon.com. Deborah Heal, author of Time and Again : Charlotte of Miles Station. (less)
I enjoyed Dark Liaison, a Christian suspense novel with an unusual premise. The hero is Corban, an ex-CIA agent, who has us...moreDark Liaison by D.I. Telbat
I enjoyed Dark Liaison, a Christian suspense novel with an unusual premise. The hero is Corban, an ex-CIA agent, who has used his contacts and skills to build an alternative spy agency whose mission is the rescue of suffering saints facing imprisonment, torture, and death in places like North Korea, Guatamala, and China. Satan’s forces, led by Abaddon and his the creepily evil minions are ramping up their attacks on Christians in a last ditch effort to thwart God’s kingdom before Christ’s return to Earth. But as a Christian, Corban and his agents refuse to kill in the line of duty, even those who are actively trying to kill them, relying instead on creative, non-lethal methods to overpower the bad guys. Luigi, an assassin hired to kill Corban, is left scratching his head when Corban “adopts” him instead of killing him. Of course, this anti-violence philosophy increases the risks of each rescue mission, but Corban’s team operates on faith, knowing their lives are in God’s hands. I loved the concept of this novel and the military techno-lingo and mission details that made the story every bit as exciting as a traditional spy story. Telbat brings home the real life danger and suspense that Christians around the world face daily as they try to live their faith. I will definitely be thinking and praying more after having read Dark Liaison. There were some flaws in this debut novel—a little too much explaining and not enough action at times, a few areas in which my disbelief was not suspended well enough. But I look forward to reading the next book in the series, sure that the writer will continue to improve his considerable skill. (less)
The Merchant’s Daughter by Melanie Dickerson Zondervan
I always love a good Beauty and the Beast story! In this version, set in 1352 Medieval England,...moreThe Merchant’s Daughter by Melanie Dickerson Zondervan
I always love a good Beauty and the Beast story! In this version, set in 1352 Medieval England, a merchant’s family has fallen on hard times. Annabel (in true fairy tale manner) is the only one of her family with any honor or integrity. So when the family is close to being expelled from their home for non-payment of taxes, she indentures herself to Ranulf, the beastly new lord of Glynval, to work off the debt.
Ranulf, who bears ugly scars and a deformed arm, is of course, no beast at all, but a wonderful wounded hero. The relationship between Ranulf and Annabel of earthly lord and servant beautifully parallels that of the Heavenly Lord and His people. Their love for one another develops when Ranulf offers Annabel the one thing she has always dreamed of: the chance to actually hold and read the Holy Bible. Even the local priest doesn’t own a copy, and he preaches a warped, misogynistic version of the Scriptures. But when Annabel reads the Bible for herself, its beautiful message of faith and hope transform their lives.
By Deborah Heal, author of Time and Again: Charlotte of Miles Station (less)
Out of Time by Caroline B. Cooney This is the second book of her trilogy, and again I loved it. I read it through in one night! At the end of book one,...moreOut of Time by Caroline B. Cooney This is the second book of her trilogy, and again I loved it. I read it through in one night! At the end of book one, when Annie leaves Strat’s 1880 world to return to her own a century later, she has no idea that he will be charged with insanity because of openly discussing Annie’s time-traveling ability. Now, when she returns, she is the only one who has even a slim chance of rescuing him from the asylum where he is being confined.
One thing I like about both books (and it seemed to come through even stronger in book II) was the honor and integrity of the hero. Strat is a man who pays his debts of honor—to Katie, the girl in the mental asylum (there only because she was born with a cleft palate) who befriends him. To Harriet, who loves him and needs him more than Annie, the woman he loves. And he loves Annie so much, in fact, that he finds “strength to pull away, and kiss no more…” For him, this is “the definition of love: not touching a woman until marriage.” Annie loves Strat for his goodness, even when it means she must suffer because of it.
Cooney continues to compare and contrast the 1880s with the 1980s. Both centuries have their benefits and their downsides. One flaw in Annie’s century would sure makes life easier when it comes to making the hard decisions she and Strat have to make. Because in the 1980s, Annie says, “people let you use any excuse. . . .You never had to be responsible for what you did, because it could always be somebody else’s fault.”
Out of Time has great messages, great characters, and great story.
By Deborah Heal, author of Time and Again: Charlotte of Miles Station. I purchased this book and have given it my fair review.
Annie is a “romantic in the wrong century,” but her boyfriend is more interested in his old cars. But one day at the derelict mansion outside of town,...moreAnnie is a “romantic in the wrong century,” but her boyfriend is more interested in his old cars. But one day at the derelict mansion outside of town, when “something was wrong with the day, or something wrong with her” she falls back one century and falls in love with Strat, a boy who is everything she’s been dreaming of—everything her boyfriend is not. He is handsome, honorable, and heir to the Stratton mansion and fortune. The 1880s seem incredibly romantic to Annie, so much better than her own ugly, plastic century. It is an age when men are men and women are women and no one mistakes one for the other. The men are charming and chivalrous. Their courtliness is so attractive to girl whose boyfriend expected her to load his tools in his truck for him. What could be better than to wear beautiful, feminine dresses and live in a luxurious mansion?
But it’s also a time of tremendous stiffness and formality. Even young people call each other by their formal titles of Mr. and Miss. And everyone is expected to “modulate” themselves and be subject to elaborate “rules of behavior.” Women’s lives are even more restrictive than the corsets they wear.
Strat is fascinated by this beautiful free-spirited girl that lands in his world. He is both attracted to and shocked by her unconfined body and bare legs. Unlike his peers, he seems willing to let her be who she is, and loves her in spite of her alien nature.
But Annie realizes that we don’t own time as we think we do with our clocks and watches. Time owns us. We are a product of our time. Will her relationship with Strat be sustainable in a world where men make the rules and govern the lives of their women, own their women? A world where a woman who doesn’t marry ceases to have any value? In Strat’s world women are so desperate for marriage that they sometimes give up relative freedom and a chance to go to college to marry repellant men old enough to be their fathers, men who only want their money.
Annie is a "Century Changer.” She can choose which century she wants to live in. But no matter which century she chooses, someone will be unhappy. She has made a mess of it on both sides of time. If only she can keep everybody safe and still get a happily ever after for herself.
So Not Happening, by Jenny B. Jones. 5 Stars Oh, Yes it Is Happening!
Thank you, Jenny B. Jones, for Bella, a realistic, three-dimensional character who...moreSo Not Happening, by Jenny B. Jones. 5 Stars Oh, Yes it Is Happening!
Thank you, Jenny B. Jones, for Bella, a realistic, three-dimensional character who also happens to be a great role model. Bella, like real people, has faults, and like real people, she is mostly blind to them. The reader feels a little like God must when we see her fumbling her way through the obstacles of life. For her, a shallow shopaholic, being forced to leave her cushy life in New York for a new one in rural Oklahoma seems like the worst possible thing that could ever happen to her. But she soon finds it could be—and is—a lot worse.
But through all her trials and tribulations, Bella is fabulously funny and smart alecky (although without the overdone cynicism of so many teen story heroes). Bella grows beyond the shallow person she was, into a courageous and determined investigative reporter for her new high school paper. Together with her handsome editor, she uncovers the dark secrets circulating through Truman High School. And she doesn’t forget to ask God for help, which comes (like in real life) not exactly like she imagined.
Note to self: Read more Jenny B. Jones books. Note to self: Write characters like Bella.
Saving Grace by Annie Jones: Steel Magnolias, It’s Not I received this ebook from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group to read and honestly review. The...moreSaving Grace by Annie Jones: Steel Magnolias, It’s Not I received this ebook from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group to read and honestly review. The following review of Saving Grace should remove any doubt that I am letting a free review copy get in the way of being honest, because to be honest, weak plot structure, confusing point of view switches, and overdone southernisms got in the way of some nice characterization, witty dialogue, and a good story.
I was all set to enjoy a good story about the friendship of four women’s friendships but felt cheated. Maybe if I had read the first book (I found out Saving Grace is a sequel only afterward.) I would have been more interested in the plot. But come on! Whether or not to restart the prayer group seems a weak vehicle for the characters to ride. And helping Grace seems like the obvious thing for good Christian women to do, not something they should have to be talked into.
And the story was confusing. Other reviewers blamed themselves for not having read the first book. This no doubt would have been helpful, and I suggest you do read it first. But the main reason for the confusion was the bewildering point of view switches. The (rather pointless) prologue sets up the book to be about Naomi and her husband, but then the point of view jumps around among the characters in no consistent, recognizable pattern, making it difficult for the reader to commit to the story.
I’ll take the author’s word that the southernisms in the story are authentic. But whether they are or not, they don’t read authentic and are as overdone as red eye gravy on grits. This too gets in the way of the story. Whenever the four women get together, not much real, character- building conversation occurs—just a lot of odd expressions get tossed around in ways that don’t advance the plot.
Now with all that negative critique out of the way (for which I am truly sorry), I loved the parts that focused on each individual woman and her man. In those passages, the point of view focuses in on one character long enough for the reader to get caught up in her thoughts and problems. There, the characters become real and the reader wants to know more. There, the excessive southern dialect gets out of the way, and the conversation is clear and true. (I especially enjoyed seeing the interaction between Ben and the endearing Lucy. I laughed out loud at several exchanges. I could really sympathize with her embarrassing faux pas and yearning for a husband and children. ) It is because of these passages that I kept reading Saving Grace and why I plan to check out other titles by Annie Jones. (less)