Arts and Entertainment, Books, Fiction

Judah’s Wife: A Novel of the Maccabees by Angela Hunt

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. Bethany House provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.

Judah’s Wife: A Novel of the Maccabees by Angela Elwell Hunt

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

Leah never felt safe in the home she grew up in. So when she marries a kind man named Judah, she believes she can finally experience a life of peace. But when Judah is challenged to fight for his people’s sacred way of life, Leah’s hopes for peace are threatened in Judah’s Wife: A Novel of the Maccabees by author Angela Hunt.

I was intrigued by The Silent Years series from the get-go, as I’d never read Biblical Fiction that addresses the four hundred years of (apparent) “silence” between the biblical books of Malachi and Matthew. I liked the first novel in this series, and have either liked or loved every novel I’ve read by Hunt, so I started anticipating this book way before its publication.

I was quickly drawn into the place, the period, and the setup of dual first-person narrators, which I’ve seen in other novels by this author. Although I’m sure I would have enjoyed this book at a different time, I only got a fifth of the way through before I decided not to continue. I’ve heard of the Maccabees and was most interested in reading about their revolt, but I’ll admit there are some aspects of Biblical Fiction I find much harder to read now than I used to.

As I recently said about another novel in the genre, my struggle with this book is reflective of a changing reader, not the quality of the story. While this likely means I’ll have to take a personal step back from the genre for now, I wouldn’t discourage other ChristFic readers from checking this novel out.

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Here’s my review of the first book in The Silent Years series, Egypt’s Sister: A Novel of Cleopatra.

 

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Arts and Entertainment, Books, Fiction

Sahara Crosswind by T. Davis Bunn

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.

Sahara Crosswind by T. Davis Bunn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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

French Resistance leader Patrique Servais might have died during torturous imprisonment if his brother, Major Pierre Servais, and Colonel Jake Burnes hadn’t rescued him in Morocco. Patrique has important intelligence to save the French government from a treasonous post-war scheme, but assassins are determined to kill him, Pierre, and Jake in the desert in Sahara Crosswind, a novel by author T. Davis Bunn.

It took me a while to settle into the rhythm of this story. Much of the opening is rather solitary (with Jake) and dialogue-less, and the first third or so of the book is mostly about Jake adapting to “the desert way.” Traveling through the desert; coming to appreciate a tribal people as he learns desert living; discovering and appreciating the beauty of the desert; experiencing God and the wonder of what can’t be put into words during his desert time.

The story quietly lays down rich layers that almost feel removed from the overall mission and latent danger that’s driving it all. So when the danger leaps back into the forefront, it hits you.

Here in the middle of the Rendezvous with Destiny series, this book is like an interlude or bridge, continuing and tying up one crucial adventure and making way for the next to begin. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s on the other side of this bridge.

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Here’s my review of Book One of the Rendezvous with Destiny series, Rhineland Inheritance.

   

 

Arts and Entertainment, Books

A More Beautiful and Terrible History: The Uses and Misuses of Civil Rights History by Jeanne Theoharis

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.

A More Beautiful and Terrible History: The Uses and Misuses of Civil Rights History by Jeanne Theoharis

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

This history is humbling—showing how hard it is to do the right thing and exposing the many barriers to unseating the status quo. It reveals that the perpetration of injustice is not always about hatred but often about indifference, fear, and personal comfort.

My goodness. A More Beautiful and Terrible History: The Uses and Misuses of Civil Rights History by Jeanne Theoharis. I’ll admit it’s hard for me to review a book like this because I wish I could write down each strong, thought-provoking, or challenging point the author makes.

This narrative speaks on the tendency for many Americans to relegate the civil rights movement to something that’s (safely) behind us. It speaks on the tendency for people to applaud figures like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks while separating them from the totality of their messages, from their anger, from the fact that they were controversial and that the civil rights movement was disruptive and unpopular to most Americans at the time. If we now reduce Rosa Parks to a sweet, quiet lady who sat meekly on a bus one day, and we strip her of her years of politics and activism and most of what she actually said, we can comfortably celebrate her without being challenged by her anymore.

This book puts clear language to ideas I’ve been chewing on, including how racism isn’t merely about people’s feelings, that as long as enough individuals don’t feel or express personal malice toward people of color, then social injustice in America is no longer a real or serious problem.

My one issue with the reading was that it often seemed redundant, repeating the same information or quotes in places or using different words to make the same points over again. I also wasn’t able to comb through all of it (time constraints with a borrowed copy), but this is the kind of book I’d have no problem revisiting.

America has much more work to do for civil rights, and it’ll take having an accurate view of our history.

 

Books

Vivir el Dream by Allison K. Garcia

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.

Vivir el Dream by Allison K. Garcia

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

To escape their dangerous life in Mexico, Juanita crossed the United States border with her daughter, Linda, back when Linda was only three years old. Now as a stellar student in college, Linda wonders what hope she’ll have for a future in America as an undocumented immigrant in Vivir el Dream, a novel by author Allison K. Garcia.

This novel brings up thought-provoking points, including moral dilemmas of truth and safety that undocumented immigrants face in the U.S. There’s also the issue that immigrants of color are often singled out while white immigrants from places like Eastern Europe, equally undocumented, are left out of the conversation–concerns and complaints.

The story includes an abundant amount of Spanish terms and dialogue and corresponding footnotes with English translations. I can appreciate the authenticity this brings to the story, and I’m not unaccustomed to books that require some language translation. But the frequency of footnoted words, phrases, and sentences was personally distracting for me here. Though it may not be as much of an issue while I’m reading nonfiction, frequent footnotes tend to hinder the flow of fiction reading for me. Even so, my familiarity with Spanish helped me not to feel too lost as I read.

There was a time or two when the story almost felt “keyword conscious” about the issues raised, maybe not as natural, but the humanness of the main characters would make up for it.

Although I only finished about half of this novel, I picked it up believing it to be an important and timely book, and I still believe so.