Book Recommendation: The Stones: A Novel of the Life of King David by Eleanor Gustafson

Back cover blurb:

With comprehensive detail and flowing prose, Eleanor Gustafson crafts the retelling of King David s life from his teenaged anointing to his death as seen through the eyes of Asaph, a Levite historian. Fictional in scope, yet with amazing scriptural accuracy, The Stones provides a revealing, behind-the-scenes glimpse into biblical history with all the twists, turns, thrills, and romance of the world s great drama.

You will be there as:
A young teen collects stones to take on a giant.
A prideful rebel takes count of his fighting men.
A fallible leader succumbs to lust, temptation, and deceit.
A poet and musician grows closer to God through prayer and worship.
A man after God s heart discovers the unfailing love and forgiveness of his Creator.

The Stones is an epic adventure of man s innate need to worship God and rely on Him for strength and how badly things can go when he fails to do so.

Narelle: I really enjoyed reading The Stones. The fictionalised story of King David’s life provided a fascinating insight into a famous Biblical character that could be equally enjoyed by male and female readers.

We gain an insight into what made David tick, including his close walk with the Lord and the very public consequences of his sin. We discover a man who had a difficult relationship with King Saul before receiving a kingship and multiple blessings from the Lord. Yet David was human like the rest of us and we witness his struggles to remain obedient to God in all areas of his life.

The story follows the events in 1 and 2 Samuel. I liked learning more about the lives of the people who were close to David, especially his wife Abigail and David’s commander in chief, Joab. Joab was a fascinating and complex character, and the narration provided by Asaph added an authentic flavour to the story.

The battle scenes were realistic and we are given a birds eye view of the mighty warrior men and the people who surrounded David, both friends and foe. We learn about David’s complex relationships with his many wives and children, and how his deceit with Bathsheba led to dire consequences. I highly recommend this book to those looking for a fast paced and action packed Biblical fiction story about one of the greatest men in Israel’s history.

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Book Recommendation: A Lineage of Grace (Unshaken) by Francine Rivers

Back cover blurb:

2009 Retailer’s Choice Award winner! In this compilation of the five books in the best-selling Lineage of Grace series by Francine Rivers, we meet the five women whom God chose – Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary. Each was faced with extraordinary – even scandalous – challenges. Each took great personal risk to fulfill her calling. Each was destined to play a key role in the lineage of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World.

Narelle: Ruth’s story is one of my favourite Bible stories. A Moabitess by birth, she married an Israelite who had moved to Moab with his family. She lost her husband, father-in-law and brother-in-law, leaving Ruth with her mother-in-law Naomi and sister-in-law Orpah. Naomi decides to move back home to Judah and Ruth insists on accompanying Naomi.

We journey with Ruth as she faces incredible hardships and remains loyal to Naomi. Ruth is prepared to take risks and follow her mother-in-laws advice, ultimately bringing justice for both herself and Naomi. I recommend ‘Unshaken’ to those looking for an inspiring and powerful story of love and hope.

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Book Recommendation: Really Bad Girls of the Bible by Liz Curtis Higgs

Back cover blurb:

When it Comes to Badness, There’s Nothing New Under the Sun.

In her best-selling book Bad Girls of the Bible, Liz Curtis Higgs breathed new life into ancient stories depicting eight of the most infamous women in scriptural history, from Jezebel to Delilah. Biblically sound and cutting-edge fresh, Bad Girls already has helped thousands of women experience God’s grace anew by learning more about our nefarious sisters.

And there are more where they came from! With Really Bad Girls of the Bible, Liz reveals the power of God’s sovereignty in the lives of other shady ladies we know by reputation but have rarely studied in depth: Bathsheba, the bathing beauty. Jael, the tent-peg-toting warrior princess. Herodias, the horrible beheader. Tamar, the widow and not-so-timid temptress. Athaliah, the deadly daughter of Jezebel. And three ancient women whose names we do not know but who have much to teach us: the ashamed Adulteress, the bewitching Medium of En Dor, and the desperate Bleeding Woman.

Narelle: Before reading this book I was wondering how Liz would write a modern day fictionalised account of Tamar’s unique story. We read about a very wronged woman from Los Vegas who loses both of her husbands before being sent home to her family by her father-in-law. The chapter on Tamar gives us an insight into the struggles she faced and the enormous risks she took to regain her status and rightful inheritance.

The chapters are easy to read and contain a commentary on the Biblical story of each woman and discussion questions. I recommend this book to those looking to gain a deeper understanding of ‘bad girls’ including Tamar and Bathsheba.

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Book Recommendation: A Lineage of Grace (Unashamed) by Francine Rivers

Back cover blurb:

2009 Retailer’s Choice Award winner! In this compilation of the five books in the best-selling Lineage of Grace series by Francine Rivers, we meet the five women whom God chose – Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary. Each was faced with extraordinary – even scandalous – challenges. Each took great personal risk to fulfill her calling. Each was destined to play a key role in the lineage of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World.

Narelle:  In Francine River’s fictionalised account of Rahab’s story, she casts Salmon, Rahab’s future husband, in the role of one of the Israelite spies who Rahab hides in her home from the king of Jericho. We journey with Rahab and Salmon as the Israelites conquer the mighty city of Jericho.

Rahab is a harlot who rejects the Canaanite gods of her family and homeland. Instead, she chooses to embrace the God of the Israelites and turn her life around. Rahab’s story is one of incredible courage and faith and I recommend this novella collection to those looking for exciting and insightful Biblical fiction stories.

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Book Recommendation: Asenath by Anna Patricio

Back cover blurb:

Two Destinies…One Journey of Love

In a humble fishing village on the shores of the Nile lives Asenath, a fisherman’s daughter who has everything she could want. Until her perfect world is shattered.

When a warring jungle tribe ransacks the village and kidnaps her, separating her from her parents, she is forced to live as a slave. And she begins a journey that will culminate in the meeting of a handsome and kind steward named Joseph.

Like her, Joseph was taken away from his home, and it is in him that Asenath comes to find solace…and love. But just as they are beginning to form a bond, Joseph is betrayed by his master’s wife and thrown into prison.

Is Asenath doomed to a lifetime of losing everything and everyone she loves?

Narelle: I really enjoyed reading Asenath and I gained many insights into life in Ancient Egypt. I find it fascinating to read books set during Biblical times from the perspective of other cultures. The Egyptians feared the God of the Israelites for many reasons.

The fictionalised account of Asenath and Joseph’s journey to love revealed their strength of character as they endured many hardships. He was sold into slavery by his brothers and was later imprisoned due to the false testimony from his Egyptian master’s wife. Joseph is a beloved hero of the Bible who provided food and shelter for his family in Egypt during the famine. I recommend this book, by an Australian author, to those looking for an exciting historical romance set during Biblical times.

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Book Recommendation: A Lineage of Grace (Unveiled) by Francine Rivers

Back cover blurb:

2009 Retailer’s Choice Award winner! In this compilation of the five books in the best-selling Lineage of Grace series by Francine Rivers, we meet the five women whom God chose – Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary. Each was faced with extraordinary – even scandalous – challenges. Each took great personal risk to fulfill her calling. Each was destined to play a key role in the lineage of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World.

Narelle: We can all empathise with Tamar when we read her story in the Unveiled novella. Tamar was a young Canaanite girl who ended up in an unhappy arranged marriage to Judah’s eldest son. Life went downhill fast for Tamar after her marriage. She was gracious in the face of intense suffering caused by the wickedness of those who were supposed to love and care for her. Even her father-in-law Judah did the wrong thing by her. Tamar took enormous risks to obtain the status that was rightfully hers.

A beautifully written story by Francine Rivers. We are shown not only the depths of  Tamar’s emotional pain but also her great strength of character and integrity. I recommend this novella collection to those looking for insightful and challenging Biblical fiction stories.

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Book Recommendation: Sarai by Jill Eileen Smith

Back cover blurb:

He promised her his heart. She promised him a son. But how long must they wait?

When Abram finally requests the hand of his beautiful half sister Sarai, she asks one thing–that he promise never to take another wife as long as she lives. Even Sarai’s father thinks the demand is restrictive and agrees to the union only if she makes a promise in return–to give Abram a son and heir. Certain she can easily do that, Sarai agrees.

But as the years stretch on and Sarai’s womb remains empty, she becomes desperate to fulfill her end of the bargain, lest Abram decide that he will not fulfill his. To what lengths will Sarai go in her quest to bear a son? And how long will Abram’s patience last?

Combining in-depth research and vivid storytelling, Jill Eileen Smith brings to life the beautiful and inscrutable Sarai in this remarkable story of love, jealousy, and undaunted faith.

Narelle: I found this fictional story fascinating for a number of reasons. In the book of Hebrews Sarai (later known as Sarah) was commended for her faith. If we take a closer look at her life circumstances we realise she struggled in her faith, especially in believing God’s promise that she would provide her husband with an heir.

Sarai was a woman who shared a deep love with her husband. She was known for her beauty and appeared to have it all. Her beauty even attracted the attention of a Pharoah, with disastrous consequences. I recommend this book to those who like Biblical fiction and want to gain a greater insight into the lives of Abraham and Sarah.

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