Eden Hill by Bill Higgs

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. Tyndale House provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.
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Four Silver Stars

Eden HillEden Hill by Bill Higgs

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

“We’re all the same, Welby. Neighbors. Just like in Reverend Caudill’s sermon this morning. And sometimes we’re even kin. We just need to learn to act like it.”

Husband and father Virgil T. Osgood is content with life in his town and the friendly, no-frills service station he operates. But the arrival of Cornelius Alexander and his new Zipco station across the street from Osgood’s may cause trouble. Add in a handful of marriages on the rocks, a tense racial climate, and an untold number of dashed or uncertain dreams, and this town will have to learn afresh what it means to “love thy neighbor” in Eden Hill by author Bill Higgs.

From beginning to end, I found this novel to be, well, thoroughly charming. Reading about this bunch of everyday folks in Eden Hill’s 1960s setting was much like visiting the town and townsfolk of Mayberry from The Andy Griffith Show. This novel is a rather easy and feel-good read with a healthy helping of humor mixed in, but it also deals with serious issues concerning relationships, ambition, compassion, and faith.

I felt the reading was slow at points where the story lingered a bit long over minor things, kind-of “marching in place” here and there. It also seemed a few later scenes basically just made the same points that were already made earlier in the book.

Still, anyone looking for an ultimately pleasant and nostalgic piece of small-town historical fiction would do well to pick up this novel.

Forsaking All Others by Kari Trumbo

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.
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Forsaking All OthersForsaking All Others by Kari Trumbo

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Fleeing from her abusive father at a Sioux reservation in Nebraska, Ojinjintka escapes with the man who loves her, Matoskah. With plans to go live in a very different world in Kansas, they’ll go by the names Rose and Pete. But it will take more than a change of names for them to tackle what’s ahead–and to tackle it together–in Forsaking All Others by author Kari Trumbo.

I often mention that I’m not too big on book blurbs. I usually forget them fast, when I do read them at all. But book covers tend to make more of an impression on me, and the warm tones and regal and radiant quality of this cover let me know that I’d be reading this book. It’s a rather simple and sweet piece of historical fiction, but there are serious aspects here, and some of Rose’s story in particular pricked me somewhere pretty deep.

Even so, I’m not sure that I got the most definite feel for Rose’s character, or for Pete’s, until maybe a little late in the book. The development of the story felt more to me like the middle of a series than an opening, as if I was supposed to be more familiar with the characters and their situation than I was. Also, I may be the victim of slightly stereotypical thinking, but it didn’t seem like the style of Rose’s and Pete’s speech quite matched their characters and their place in this setting.

Still, my enjoyment of the book increased the further I got into it, and I think a lot of other historical ChristFic readers should enjoy this, too.

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Forsaking All Others is Book One in the Western Vows series.

To Honor and Cherish For Richer or Poorer To Love and Comfort

Star of Night by Tracy Higley

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.
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Five Gold Stars

Star of NightStar of Night by Tracy L. Higley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

“Fighting each other. It makes no sense, but that is what this senseless quest has brought us. From the time we stopped following the star we have been doomed to this.”

The stars over the Arabian sands have heralded the coming of a new world ruler, and ambition, tension, desperation, and violence heighten on the race to secure power in Star of Night by author Tracy Higley.

The significance of the strife that unfolds here is rooted in the book that precedes this one, and it’s necessary to read The Incense Road trilogy in order. Necessary, and in my eyes so far, worth it. I’ll admit there seemed to be a missing link in the chain of emotion somewhere in the first quarter or third of this book, but I didn’t feel lost for long.

As the adventure that still reminds me of Aladdin and Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark continues, the human story develops further as well. This time, it goes deeper into the conflicted and questioning heart of Reza, a general of the Persian king, unsure of the revolution he’s leading, struggling in his friendship with Misha, the young mage who can hear the star that beckons toward Jerusalem.

Sure, I already know something about where this perilous and spiritual journey of epic import must be leading. (Thank you, Christmas!) But the growing weight of the personal stakes the characters have in this has intrigued me all the more to see how the story will ultimately culminate. On to Book Three…

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Here’s my review of Book One in The Incense Road trilogy, Star of Wonder.

Star of Wonder  Royal Beauty

Havah: The Story of Eve by Tosca Lee

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.
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HavahHavah: The Story of Eve by Tosca Lee

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

“Havah.” The name is a breath before speaking and a fiery exhale.
I am vitality borne into the lung; I am existence whispered on the tongue. Like the breath with which the One sparked life into the adam…
I live.

It’s not the first time I’ve read a novel about the Bible’s first woman. But it’s the first time a novel about her intrigued and engrossed me this much.

While reading Havah: The Story of Eve by author Tosca Lee, I was glad to see that Ish and Isha aren’t the more predictable—perhaps, stereotypical—”Adam and Eve” that I’ve seen depicted before. The author doesn’t make this man and woman so much like modern (or Western) thinkers and speakers as to lose the curiousness and antiquity of the story. Havah’s journey is poetically developed here with such keen observation and imagination that the telling is truly impeccable, bringing an age-old account to life without making it too easily…contemporary.

I must say, though, as engrossed as I was in this novel, much of it was so depressing to me that I almost gave up on it a few times. Of course, being banished from your home and losing depth of communion with your environment, your race, and your God is no “happy” predicament, and I’m not a stranger to books that are simultaneously excellent and hard to swallow. But it seemed so long before the hope that Havah’s Adam spoke of early on found much space to convincingly breathe again. After Eden, Havah’s petulance and Adam’s aloofness became a bit much for me, and as I didn’t exactly warm to any of the other characters during the often bleak events, I didn’t enjoy the read as much as I would’ve liked.

Still, I can’t dismiss the value or, again, the impeccability of the read, and I’d certainly recommend it to readers with questioning minds and an appreciation for lyrical literature. This is the first I’ve read by this author, and I’ve every intention of reading more.

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Note for my blog readers: not out of keeping with the subject matter, this novel contains some violent and sensual material for mature audiences.