Posted in Bethany House, Book reviews

“Shelter of the Most High” by Connilyn Cossette ~ Book Review

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“Shelter of the Most High” by Connilyn Cossette

Biblical Fiction// Cities of Refuge book Two.

Review copy from the publisher

My rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

About the Book:

 

The daughter of a pagan high priest, Sofea finds solace from her troubles in the freedom of the ocean. But when marauders attack her village on the island of Sicily, she and her cousin are taken across the sea to the shores of Canaan.

Eitan has lived in Kedesh, a City of Refuge, for the last eleven years, haunted by a tragedy in his childhood and chafing at the boundaries placed on him. He is immediately captivated by Sofea, but revealing his most guarded secret could mean drawing her into the danger of his past.

As threats from outside the walls loom and traitors are uncovered within, Sofea and Eitan are plunged into the midst of a murder plot. Will they break free from the shackles of the past in time to uncover the betrayal and save their lives and the lives of those they love?

 

 

 

My Thoughts:

 

What fun to be able to read little Eitan’s story from when we first met him in “A Light on the Hill”. Except…little Eitan is no longer little in “Shelter of the Most High”! What happened?! ;) He grew up. Into a very strong, Yahweh-following, handsome young man.
This story is also shared with heroine, Sofea. The foreign speaking spitfire with the utmost concern for her cousin, Prezi. Both of these young woman are strong characters and immediately endearing. Kidnapped from their Island and families that were murdered, the girls manage to escape off the ship on which they were imprisoned, making it to shore but nearly dying in the process. They are rescued by a group of Hebrews who bring them back to the city of refuge, Kedesh.
Not only would the ordeal be terrifying, but not speaking their language or understanding at all would be remarkably hard. It was lovely to see the girls adapt, even through continued hardships.
Some of the tension that occurred towards the middle/end was a bit predictable, though there was one event that I hadn’t suspected that was interesting for sure.
I know the relationship tension is something done in almost every novel and it works for the stories, but I have to admit that I get a little tired of it. I certainly don’t mind realistic relationship problems because relationships are hard, but when it just seems to be a part of the plot it isn’t my favorite.
However, I loved how it was resolved, and the ending was very, very good! I don’t want to give any spoilers, but after the tension event occurred, I was completely riveted, wanting to know how a certain plot was going to be unwound.
I also loved the small hints we got for Prezi’s relationship status, though I know we probably won’t get a book for her story. I loved Prezi, Sofea’s cousin, and fell in love with her sweet character!
This is Biblical Fiction, so of course mentions of Yahweh are woven throughout. Its message wasn’t as strong as I was expecting, so I think that’s why it wasn’t my favorite compared to the first book in this series, but it was still very good, and as I said, I loved the ending – that is where we received some very lovely truths that were healing to the characters. I would’ve liked to see Sofea develop more in her faith in Yahweh, though. I feel like that wasn’t touched upon very deeply.
Eitan’s story was very good in this aspect though.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author/publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.
Posted in character introduction

Character Introduction: Moriyah

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Today I’d like to introduce you to Moriyah, main character in “A Light on the Hill” by Connilyn Cossette! She’s an amazing heroine. Enjoy! (If you’re new to these posts: The idea behind them is just to spotlight the character a bit, give a little description of their personality, and for fun, a few books I’d recommend to them if I could.) 

 

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Source: author’s Pinterest board

 

Moriyah has a scar on her face from a traumatic ordeal years before this book starts off. The scar – a pagan emblem – has not only scarred her skin but also her soul. She struggles to see her true worth, living in shame and fear.
But she is one of the most kind-hearted young women – she has a heart of gold and always desires to minister to those she can.
When a certain event occurs that changes her life-course, she is forced to learn to embrace a whole new life-style, and learn what it means to trust Yahweh fully and learn that her worth is more than her scar – in Yahweh she is complete.
I highly, highly, highly recommend you read Moriyah’s story in “A Light on the Hill”! It’s a beautiful journey.
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Books I’d Recommend to Moriyah:
Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers – while this book deals with slightly different issues than Moriyah faces, I think she would enjoy it and take the message to her heart.
In the Field of Grace by Tessa Afshar – The title indicates it would be a good fit for Moriyah – grace. <3
Land of Silence by Tessa Afshar –  Yes, another Tessa Afshar book here. Because I think they are so poignant, and would be an encouragement to Moriyah.
And I’d love to recommend each of Connilyn Cossette’s other books to Moriyah ;)
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Meet Moriyah yourself in “A Light on the Hill”:
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Seven years ago, Moriyah was taken captive in Jericho and branded with the mark of the Canaanite gods. Now the Israelites are experiencing peace in their new land, but Moriyah has yet to find her own peace. Because of the shameful mark on her face, she hides behind her veil at all times and the disdain of the townspeople keeps her from socializing. And marriage prospects were out of the question . . . until now.

Her father has found someone to marry her, and she hopes to use her love of cooking to impress the man and his motherless sons. But when things go horribly wrong, Moriyah is forced to flee. Seeking safety at one of the newly-established Levitical cities of refuge, she is wildly unprepared for the dangers she will face, and the enemies–and unexpected allies–she will encounter on her way.

About the Author:
Connilyn Cossette
Connilyn Cossette is the CBA-Bestselling author of the Out from Egypt Series and the Cities of Refuge Series from Bethany House Publishers. There is not much she enjoys more than digging into the rich, ancient world of the Bible, discovering new gems of grace that point to Jesus, and weaving them into an immersive fiction experience. She lives in North Carolina with her husband of over twenty years and a son and daughter who fill her days with joy, laughter, and inspiration. Connect with her at www.ConnilynCossette.com
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Check out the Author Interview with Connilyn Cossette, and my book review of “A Light on The Hill” by clicking on the graphics below. :)
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Posted in Author Interview, Books

Author Interview! Connilyn Cossette

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Welcome to another Author-Interview Monday! I am beyond pleased to be sharing this author-interview with Connilyn Cossette for May! I adore her books. <3 When she replied to my inquiry about an interview, I was overjoyed to say the least. :) Hope you enjoy it as much as I have!!

 

 

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Welcome to my “Peculiar” Blog! I’m so happy to have you here :)  Would you please introduce yourself and the genre that you write:

Hi Raechel, Thank you so much for inviting me to your blog! My name is Connilyn Cossette (and yes that is my real name, not a nom du plume). I am the author of the Out from Egypt and Cities of Refuge Series with Bethany House Publishers which are Biblical Fiction (although I like to call it “outsider Biblical fiction” because my main characters are fictional, not people from the Bible). I have recently moved from Texas to North Carolina with my hubby of twenty years and my two kids, 11&13, whom I homeschool. So being a writer and a homeschool teacher on top of just doing my day to day stuff, my life is a little crazy, but its a good crazy!

 

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Aren’t they all so gorgeous?! And so excited for the next book!

 

Of your books, is there a character that you relate best to? And if so, why?

Probably Shira from Shadow of the Storm. My kiddos came to me by adoption as well, so my struggles mirror Shira’s in many ways.  I also tend to be a glass-half full person, and sometime my rose-colored glasses end up shattered, but it does help me to look for the best in people. And, like Shira, music is also my worship language.

 

 

Do you have a special process for how you choose your character’s names?

I use Hebraic versions of the Bible as a starting point and I have a couple of websites with Hebrew names I reference frequently. I also base names on Hebrew word meanings and shhhh, sometimes I make them up ;)

 

 

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I have heard that many authors have their own interesting writing quirk – do you have one?  If so, would you mind sharing?

I sometimes like to write with my eyes closed. It allows me to be fully inside the scene to experience and build the sensory details. My son saw me doing it the other day and freaked out how accurately I can type with my eyes closed! Although at times it makes for some interesting spelling or words that I cannot decipher at all later.

 

 

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

It energizes me unless I come to a wall and can’t find my way past it. But thinking about stories, talking about stories with my writing pals, crafting stories, and polishing stories through editing are all pretty much my favorite things in the world.

 

 

 

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How important to you is the faith-element in your writing? Is it central to the theme or more of a sideline plot?

Faith is absolutely central to what I do. My heart is to draw people to the Word by sparking interest in the cultural and historical context through story form. I am not out to re-write the Bible, but only to spur imagination about what it might have been like for people whose lives connected in some way with all those Bible characters (who were real people!) that we know so well.

 

 

 

 

What does your family think of your writing?

My kids are very inspired by what I do. They both are book-a-holics and love to write. My son especially has taken to writing his own stories, sometimes for hours at a time. My hubby of course is very proud of me, but being a non-reader (GASP!) he’s still a little mystified by the idea that I want to spend hour upon hour making up stories about imaginary people. They’ve all learned to be very tolerant of my tendency to stare at walls or out windows randomly, or to talk to myself, or to wave my arms around or make strange faces as I silently act out scenes. Hopefully that will stave off any plans to take me to the funny farm later in life ;)

 

 

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

To read more in different genres, to write what you would want to read instead of trying to copy anyone else’s style. To be okay with the weirdness of your brain and the fact that a lot of “normals” may just not get your particular brand of quirkiness. To not waste time or energy on second-guessing yourself but instead be brave and bold about who you are and the passions that God hard-wired into you.

 

 

gerbera-1250287How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

I am about halfway done with the third book in the Cities of Refuge Series (and yes, that means I am SUPER behind) but otherwise I only have one half-finished novella sitting on my laptop that hopefully someday I will get around to working on, since it ties in with my Out from Egypt Series.

 

 

What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

Nicole Deese and Tammy L. Gray are my bestie writing gals, we Google Chat every week now that I have moved across the country. They constantly challenge and inspire me to be a better writer. I don’t think I would have near the drive, the writing speed, or staying power to do what I do without them. We have developed a deep trust between us that allows us to be completely honest when something just doesn’t work and a willingness to take criticism without offense because we know that we all want each other’s work to be the best it can be.

 

 

And lastly, would you recommend a book that my readers might like if they’ve read your latest, “A Light on the Hill”?

I can’t think of a specific book off the top of my head, but I always recommend any Biblical Fiction by Roseanna White, Mesu Andrews, Francine Rivers, Stephanie Landsem, or Tessa Afshar. These ladies write God-honoring stories that point readers back to the Word.

 

 

Thank you so very much, Mrs. Cossette!

 

 

 

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Connilyn CossetteConnilyn Cossette is the CBA-Bestselling author of the Out from Egypt Series and the Cities of Refuge Series from Bethany House Publishers. There is not much she enjoys more than digging into the rich, ancient world of the Bible, discovering new gems of grace that point to Jesus, and weaving them into an immersive fiction experience. She lives in North Carolina with her husband of over twenty years and a son and daughter who fill her days with joy, laughter, and inspiration. Connect with her at www.ConnilynCossette.com

 

 

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That was delightful! I can’t express just how much I love reading author’s answers to these questions, and getting to know them more. It feels like such a special experience and honor!

Writing with her eyes closed – love that, because I do that too. ^.^ It works well!

Also, her advice to her younger writers self – beautiful. I think the answers to those questions are the ones I soak up the most <3

 

 

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Check back next Monday for the Character Introduction post featuring one of Mrs.Cossette’s characters! <3

 

Posted in Bethany House, Book reviews, Books, reading, Reviews

“A Light on the Hill” by Connilyn Cossette ~ Book Review

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“A Light on the Hill” by Connilyn Cossette

Book One in the Cities of Refuge Series

Review copy from the publishers

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

 

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About the Book:

 

Seven years ago, Moriyah was taken captive in Jericho and branded with the mark of the Canaanite gods. Now the Israelites are experiencing peace in their new land, but Moriyah has yet to find her own peace. Because of the shameful mark on her face, she hides behind her veil at all times and the disdain of the townspeople keeps her from socializing. And marriage prospects were out of the question . . . until now.

Her father has found someone to marry her, and she hopes to use her love of cooking to impress the man and his motherless sons. But when things go horribly wrong, Moriyah is forced to flee. Seeking safety at one of the newly-established Levitical cities of refuge, she is wildly unprepared for the dangers she will face, and the enemies–and unexpected allies–she will encounter on her way.

 

 

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My Thoughts:

 

What a delightful treat to be able to read Moriyah’s story, whom we were introduced to in “Wings of the Wind” (part of the Out of Egypt Series, while this book is book one of the Cities of Refuge Series)!
I loved this book; it was excellent. I love how the author weaves a story that is at once so captivating and so meaningful and ripe with the Lord’s beauty.
And I loved the characters – of course, Moriyah, but also Ora, and Eitan (SO adorable!!), and the hero Derek – all such excellent characters, well-constructed and portrayed.
I was impressed that most of the book was one of the characters being on the move – they weren’t in one location for very long, and that made the setting very unique! And adventurous. Though the reason behind it was a sad one, the descriptions of the sights they saw were a pleasure to read.
Moriyah’s heart-journey was even more enjoyable, seeing her struggles from page one and how she found healing from Yahweh. Her finding her worth was beautiful. <3
She was so kind to those around her, and so strong even when she felt herself weak. I also loved how she could hear Yahweh’s Voice – so precious. Moriyah was such an easy character to bond with. I felt like I shared in her sorrows and also her joys. I wanted to see her triumph, but most of all I loved how she committed – and surrendered – her life to Yahweh. Such a humbling and good reminder, one I love to read about in fiction.
I was a little surprised by the amount of kissing involved…I am not a Biblical/Historical expert at all, but I wouldn’t think that a Hebrew maiden would give away so many kisses before commitment, let alone before marriage. And if it was a matter of getting caught up in the moment (understandable; the flesh is weak), I think because of their upbringing, she would have felt a bit of remorse afterwards, if that makes sense.
But otherwise, I very much adored this book.
Each piece of this book was well-written and engaging, and I can hardly wait for the next one (yay for getting to see an older Eitan in the next one!!)!!
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Quotes:

 

Moriyah

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“Hear, O Israel. The Lord your God, the Lord is One. And you should love the Lord with all your heart, all your mind, and all your strength…these words which I command you today shall be on your heart.” If I loved Yahweh, I would obey, no matter the cost.

 

Posted in Bethany House, Book reviews

Book Review: “Wings of the Wind” by Connilyn Cosette

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Wings of the Wind by Connilyn Cossette (Purchase HERE)

Book Three in the Out of Egypt Series

Review copy from Bethany House Program

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

 

About the Book:

Alanah, a Canaanite, is no stranger to fighting and survival. When her family is killed in battle with the Hebrews, she disguises herself and sneaks onto the battlefield to avenge her family. The one thing she never counted on was surviving.

Tobiah, a Hebrew warrior, is shocked to find an unconscious, wounded woman among the Canaanite casualties. Compelled to bring her to a Hebrew healer back at their camp, he is soon confronted with a truth he can’t ignore: the only way to protect this enemy is to marry her.

Unused to being weak and vulnerable, Alanah submits to the marriage–for now. As she comes to know and respect Tobiah and his people, however, she begins to second-guess her plans of escape. But when her past has painfully unanticipated consequences, the tentative peace she’s found with Tobiah, the Hebrews, and Yahweh is shaken to the core. Can Alanah’s fierce heart and strength withstand the ensuing threats to her life and all she’s come to love?

 

 

My Thoughts:

 

This was such a beautiful book! Truly. I wasn’t sure if I’d completely bond with the main character, Alanah, because from the backcover blurb, she didn’t sound like a typical character I’d love, but I was wrong, and this book was marvelous and I enjoyed it ever so much!
It stunned me in its plotline. And the characters. This series has been so good, and I’m sad to see it end, but excited for the next series by this author!
Alanah was a fiery character to be sure, but relatable. And Tobiah! Oh. Wow. His sacrificial and continuing love for her was just heart-melting. A great mirror to Christ’s love for us. It really impacted me, and helped remind me of our Heavenly Father’s persistence in pursuing us in the most loving way. He doesn’t push, but He pursues.
A midwife was introduced in the beginning of the book, as a healer (read it to find out why!), and the whole time I was doing this: “Is that…? That has to be…? Is it? It’s got to be Shira! Please let it be Shira!” – because I don’t know about you, but I love having characters from past books in the series show up in the next one even if it’s not directly about them.  And I loved Shira. :)
The midwife’s character was so perfect for this story. Her gentleness but firmness with Alanah was great.
The characters really were marvelous. I loved Nita from the beginning. <3 And the sand cats. That was an amazing touch that I loved ever so much. I love cats. ^.^
The storyline was captivating.
And the sometimes-painful-journeys we go on with Alanah, and what she had to endure! So sad. But I absolutely loved to see how it was all wrapped up and how God had a purpose in ALL of it. That is so true in our own lives – there are times where we go through horrible things that we can’t see any point of – all we see is the pain. That’s probably all Alanah saw too. But God had a plan, just as He does for us! He’ll bring us out of our own Jericho’s, He’ll bring us Healing, in His time. Nothing goes unnoticed by Him – He’s got us in the palm of His hand, even in seemingly hopeless situations.
The lessons learned by each character were fantastic, and Tobiah’s reminder that “you are not God” – that was brilliant and hits home. We can’t protect everyone all the time, despite our good intentions – we are not God. But HE is, and He is more than capable. Beautiful.
So yes, as you can see, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. God used it to touch my heart, and that always guarantees a book to be a winner in my eyes! :)
Have you read the series? Which if of the books was your favourite, if so? Counted with the Stars, Shadow of the Storm, or Wings of the Wind? They’re all so good, not sure I could pick a favourite. Shadow of the Storm has a special place for me, but now so does WOTW, and Counted with the Stars was utterly lovely too. So, I don’t know. ^.^
Posted in Bethany House, Book reviews

Bethany House Book Review: “Counted with the Stars” by Connilyn Cossette

Counted With the Stars (Out from Egypt, #1)

“Counted with the Stars” by Connilyn Cossette

Biblical Fiction

Source: Bethany House

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

 

 

About the Book:

A Story of Love, Desperation, and Hope During a Great Biblical Epoch

Sold into slavery by her father and forsaken by the man she was supposed to marry, young Egyptian Kiya must serve a mistress who takes pleasure in her humiliation. When terrifying plagues strike Egypt, Kiya is in the middle of it all.

To save her older brother and escape the bonds of slavery, Kiya flees with the Hebrews during the Great Exodus. She finds herself utterly dependent on a fearsome God she’s only just beginning to learn about, and in love with a man who despises her people. With everything she’s ever known swept away, will Kiya turn back toward Egypt or surrender her life and her future to Yahweh?

 

 

My Thoughts:

 

A beautiful piece of Biblical fiction. :)
Because I’d read a couple Biblical fiction books this year that I just couldn’t connect to, I was a little bit apprehensive to begin this book and was afraid it might follow suit. But not at all! What a blessing that was. :) I easily got into this story,and it was so eloquently told, so real in its telling. I really like the first-person perspective for this one. It helped bring it alive, and to really understand Kiya. Who, by the way, was a good character. She was flawed, and real, and likeable. I didn’t actually hold major caring for Eben at first…but towards the end, his relationship with Kiya was adorable and super sweet. I loved Shira and am looking forward to reading her story next. And Jumo – he was a fantastic character as well.
I’ve read my share of retellings of the Biblical account of the Exodus out of Egypt, but this was unique – it impressed me! It wasn’t exactly what I’ve read before, and I enjoyed that.
There were only two things that set any ‘flags’ up for me, and so I shall share those:
I don’t think I care for the thought that when God parted the sea through Moses, that the sea turned into ice because of a cold wind. Yes, the book said that God sent the cold wind, but I don’t personally think that it would be something that could be explained as ‘natural causes’ for that one. The rushing water being parted would be more spectacular, and God’s miracles didn’t need to be ‘explained away’. They couldn’t be.
The other thing was, it wasn’t entirely clear that all of Egypt’s gods weren’t actually real and powerful. There was this underlying theme that made it seem like Egypt’s gods, though helpless, were real, and that Yahweh was just the most powerful of them.  Like God is just another of the gods. But there are no other gods besides Yahweh.  People may ‘see’ them as other gods and choose to believe they are real, but they, like the Egyptian’s gods, were idols after Satan. And I get that Kiya wouldn’t understand this at first, but I was expecting one of the Hebrews to explain it in the end with clarity, and that didn’t happen.
But otherwise, I did really like this book and was quite satisfied with it.
I was rather sad to leave it. Once I finished it, I would think to sit down and read but then realised I had finished it already…kinda bummed! But that is a good thing in a book, in my opinion. And I’m looking forward to the other books in this series. :)
 I marked several quotes, and will share those too. :)
“But I know there is a reason for everything He does, and even if my human mind can’t wrap itself around His plan, I will follow. All I know is what my father told me from the time I was a tiny girl. Elohim will rescue us, and as we suffer under the hand of Pharaoh, He is building, preparing us for something.” 
“For what?”
“For something we cannot even imagine.” her strange green-gray eyes searched mine for a long moment. “Perhaps He is preparing you, too.”
 – Chapter 8 pg 81
“Yahweh does things in His own time. He is preparing us.” – Chapter 10 pg 96
“Our only hope is the wheat and spelt.” “They weren’t ruined by the storm?” “No, they aren’t quite ready for harvest, and their stalks are still flexible. They were bent by the storm, but not broken.” – Chapter 13 pg 121 – This just reminded me of the verse that says God will not bruise a broken reed. :)
“Sometimes it seems to me like Yahweh chooses to work through the most unlikely of people.”  – Chapter 24 pg 193
“But I am not one of His people, why would He protect me?” The man turned to me, his eyes burning with passion. “He created you…He knows you…and will…make Himself known to you.”  – Chapter 31 pg 235
“He placed a large hand on my shoulder. “Ask Him to reveal Himself.” – Chapter 31 pg 235
“But unlike my father, unlike Shefu, this Father [God] had not turned His back on me – instead He liberated me.”
 “Here I was in bondage again, yet somehow I felt free.”  – both from Chapter 38 pg 301
“Shira had questioned, all those months ago, whether Yahweh was preparing me for something. Now I could see that it was true. Yahweh had brought me here into the wilderness to free me, to show me how to leave my idols behind, and to meet the man I would spend my life with. Yahweh cared enough to bring me out of slavery and ignorance, protect me in the desert, and to reveal Himself to me in a tent during the middle of a battle. The God who parted the sea could surely mend the rift in my heart.”  – Chapter 40 pg 323
So yes, a very enjoyable book!
**I received a complimentary copy from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review which I have given.**