"And he departed from our sight that we might return to our heart, and there find Him. For He departed, and behold, He is here."
~ Saint Augustine (354-430 AD), theologian and author, Confessions
New and Recently Released!
Beyond All Dreams by Elizabeth CamdenHistorical Romance. In 1897 Washington, D.C., map librarian Anna O'Brien works at the Library of Congress. She still misses her father, who died 15 years earlier when the Navy ship he was aboard sank during a hurricane -- or at least that's the official story. But when Anna discovers an error in the government report about the case, military officials threaten her job. Joining forces with brash Maine congressman Luke Callahan (who's raising his teenage nephew to keep him away from the bad influence of rowdy family members), Anna attempts to sort out what really happened. This richly detailed look at D.C. and the U.S. government a century ago should please historical fiction fans who enjoy opposites-attract stories and authentic characters.
Esther: Royal Beauty by Angela Elwell HuntBiblical Fiction. Since she was a girl, Hadassah had wanted to be a queen -- not because she wanted power, but because she wanted to be beautiful, and thought queens were always beautiful. Using two different points of view -- that of Hadassah (later called Esther) and Harbonah, a eunuch and a principal servant of the king -- this evocative retelling of the biblical story of Esther paints a suspenseful picture of how an orphaned Jewish girl raised by relatives ends up getting her wish to be a royal. But as the queen of a pagan land, she must hide her Jewish heritage -- until a dangerous man forces her to risk everything to save her people. This "beautiful, honest, captivating retelling of a familiar story" (Publishers Weekly) is the 1st in bestselling author Angela Elwell Hunt's planned Dangerous Beauty trilogy; the 2nd, Bathsheba, is due in September.
The Beekeeper's Son by Kelly IrvinAmish Fiction. After her husband dies, Abigail Lantz moves her five children from lush, green Tennessee to drought-stricken Bee County, Texas in order to be near her brother -- and the man she almost married years ago. Teenage Deborah, who had just been developing a special friendship with a boy back home, hopes to return and marry him. But things may not work out as either of the women planned: Abigail's old beau may still not be the man for her, and Deborah finds she has a strong connection with Phineas King, the local beekeeper's son, who has horrible facial scars from the accident that killed his mother when he was a child. In a starred review, Publishers Weekly calls this 1st in the Amish of Bee County trilogy a "beautifully woven masterpiece."
A Thing of Beauty by Lisa SamsonGeneral Fiction. Though this isn't your standard Christian fiction novel (it has some profanity and the characters don't really talk about God), readers looking for a thought-provoking, almost allegorical look at renewal may want to pick up the latest by Christy Award-winning author Lisa Samson. In this leisurely paced novel, former child actor Fiona Hume -- who was abused by a co-star and is estranged from her Hollywood star parents -- is now 32 and living alone in a large house in Baltimore. For years, she's brought home yard-sale and trash-pile finds to repurpose into art. But while she's great at collecting, she hasn't created anything -- and her house is stuffed. Needing money, Fiona rents out a room to Josia, a blacksmith who exudes amazing acceptance and unconditional love, and he helps her take the first step on a better path.
The Dandelion Field by Kathryn SpringerContemporary Romance. Back when he was a teen, Banister Falls, Wisconsin, firefighter Dan Moretti adored Evie -- but she loved his best friend Max. Now, nearly 20 years later, Dan still waits for widowed Evie to maybe fall for him one day and acts as the father figure for her son, Cody. After her car breaks down in tiny Banister Falls, 36-year-old single mom Ginevieve Lightly agrees to stop rambling for a year in order to let her daughter, Raine, graduate from the local high school. Then quiet, smart Raine meets personable good-guy Cody, and even though Cody is a Christian who believes in abstinence, Raine ends up pregnant. As this disparate group negotiates the future in this "sincere and thoughtfully beautiful story" (Booklist), Dan finds himself drawn to Gin while Raine and Cody deal with gossip and tough choices.
Books for the Easter Season
The Centurion's Wife by T. Davis Bunn and Janette OkeBiblical Fiction. Though she grew up privileged, Leah's family lost their money. Now, in 33 A.D. Judea, she works as a servant in the palace of Pontius Pilate. But when Alban, an ambitious Roman soldier she's never met, asks Pilate for her hand in marriage, he agrees...if Alban uncovers the truth about the recently crucified man called Jesus. Meanwhile, Leah is secretly commissioned by Pilate's wife, who's been having unsettling dreams, to also discover what became of the obscure rabbi whose death and missing body are causing such furor. Bestselling authors Janette Oke and T. Davis Bunn began their Acts of Faith trilogy with this excellent 1st volume; it's followed by The Hidden Flame and The Damascus Way.
The Family of Jesus by Karen KingsburyBiblical Fiction. In this heartfelt short story collection, bestselling author Karen Kingsbury provides an in-depth look at six of Jesus' family members: Mary, Joseph, his brother James, John the Baptist, Zechariah, and Elizabeth. Focusing on each individual's role in the life of the Savior, the stories weave scriptural truths with fiction to create a compelling story that makes these larger-than-life people seem real. This is the 1st book in Kingsbury's Heart of the Story collection; coming out this summer is book 2, The Friends of Jesus. While great for book groups (there's a study guide for each of the six), The Family of Jesus should prove to be intriguing reading for most biblical fiction fans.
Iscariot: A Novel by Tosca LeeBiblical Fiction. Who was Judas? Jesus called him "friend" and named him one of the 12 disciples, but the Bible tells us he returned this affection by betraying him. Why? Bestselling author Tosca Lee, who's co-written books with Ted Dekker, attempts to answer these questions while providing a sympathetic and thought-provoking look at Judas' life. Portraying him as both an innocent young child, who lived when Herod and the Romans terrorized the Jews, and as an adult, who was baptized by John and loved Jesus before becoming unhappy with his agenda, Lee evocatively brings Judas to life in this book that Library Journal calls "brilliant," and Kirkus Reviews says is "intelligently imagined."
Claudia, Wife of Pontius Pilate: A Novel by Diana Wallis TaylorBiblical Fiction. Though we know little about her since she's barely mentioned in the Bible, Pilate's wife is spotlighted here via Diana Wallis Taylor's research and rich imagination. Meeting Claudia as a preteen girl, we learn she is the exiled illegitimate granddaughter of Caesar Augustus, who is soon forced from the only home she's ever known and sent to the palace in Rome. There she meets and marries Lucius Pontius Pilate. The two are sent to Judea, where Pilate will act as prefect and where a Jewish carpenter named Jesus is stirring up the populace. For another look at New Testament women who meet Jesus, try Stephanie Landsem's The Well.
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