Book Review: Until the Mountains Fall by Connilyn Cossette

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I have been waiting on PINS and NEEDLES to finally share this review with you guys. Okay, well, maybe not pins and needles (more like couches and pillows, because… Comfort). But you guys! I am finally sharing with you all of the thoughts on Until The Mountains Fall, the latest installment of the Cities of Refuge series by Connilyn Cossette, and it was so good I’m not even sure if I can accurately describe it. Nevertheless, I shall try!

Plus, stay tuned until the end of this post for some exciting updates about videos I will be posting to my YouTube channel in celebration of the Until the Mountains Fall release on July 2, 2019.

About the Author:

Connilyn Cossette is the CBA bestselling author of the Out from Egypt and Cities of Refuge series. Her debut novel, Counted with the Stars, was a finalist for the 2017 Christy Award, INSPY Award, and the Christian Retailing’s Best Award. She lives with her husband of twenty-one years and a son and a daughter who fill her days with joy, inspiration, and laughter. Connect with her at www.connilyncossette.com.

Now, if you don’t already know what this book is about, then be sure to catch the summary. This is a wonderful Biblical fiction release and a fantastic series that you should definitely check out!

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Recently widowed, Rivkah refuses to submit to the Torah law compelling her to marry her husband’s brother and instead flees Kedesh, hoping to use her talents as a scribe to support herself. Without the protections of her father, Kedesh’s head priest, and the safety of the city of refuge, Rivkah soon discovers that the cost of recklessness is her own freedom.

Malakhi has secretly loved Rivkah for years, but he never imagined his older brother’s death would mean wedding her himself. After her disappearance, he throws himself into the ongoing fight against the Canaanites instead of dwelling on all he has lost. But with impending war looming over Israel, Rivkah’s father comes to Malakhi with an impossible request.

As the enemies that Rivkah and Malakhi face from without and within Israel grow more threatening each day, is it too late for the restoration their wounded souls seek?

You guys. One of the things that I love about Biblical fiction is the hopeful thread of God’s faithfulness which is almost always woven throughout the story. If hope is a thread, then this book is a magnificent tapestry. This is by far one of the most redemptive, uplifting, powerful Biblical fiction novels I have ever read.

Copy of We Love You A Latte!-2If not the most.

This book really showcased the power of love; familial love, a father’s love, romantic love, and the love of God. I so enjoyed watching Malakhi mature from boy, to young man, and to hero. His maturity and honor, even when his honor and respect were not deserved, was refreshing in a main male character.

Although it took me a while to grow to love Rivkah, a few chapters in I was fully invested in her character and in her plight. Her struggle with submitting to God’s will even when His plans were unknown, and later, her struggle with guilt and resentment towards herself when she realized all she had lost by relying solely on herself and not on trusting others and having faith were incredibly relatable.

No Matter that Rivkah had fled Kedesh, lied, ... and who knows what else,AND YOU GUYS. THAT TWIST ON THE VERY LAST PAGE THOUGH.

*I would highly, highly, HIGHLY suggest that you read A Light on the Hill BEFORE picking this book up if you don’t want a major spoiler. Just saying.*

Finally, the story and plot of this book showcased redemption and healing like none other. I enjoyed how this book was a loose re-inventing of the Prodigal Son parable, a story which I have often related with and in different times of my life, have identified both with the son himself and with the jealous brother. While this book is not a Biblical fiction retelling of that story, the parable remains an influence on the plot and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Seriously you guys, this series gets better and better the more books that are released. The first two books in this series are called A Light on the Hill and Shelter of the Most High, both of which I have reviewed previously on the blog. Until the Mountains Fall was a beautiful story, and my favorite in the series by far. I am already marking my calendar for Like Flames in the Night, which will be the final book in the series. I’m expecting an EPIC conclusion!

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Until the Mountains Fall releases on July 2, 2019 and you can pre-order/purchase it by clicking THIS LINK.

You also still have time to read this AND all the other books in the series before Like Flames in the Night releases in 2020. If you’re looking for something to binge this summer, this series is it! Fast-paced, action packed, and FULL of powerful narratives of God’s faithfulness even in the darkest of times.

Now, on to the fun stuff!

You guys, I have TWO fun videos coming to my YouTube channel in celebration of this exciting release! Both are pre-recorded, so if you hear me talking about how my “review will go up soon” just know that I filmed these before I wrote this review!

The first super fun video coming is a READING VLOG! You all loved my last reading vlog for Of Fire and Lions by Mesu Andrews, so I had to bring you one for Until the Mountains Fall! This video goes live on June 21, 2019, so if you’re reading this that means that you can already click over and watch it!

The second video in my series honoring Until the Mountains Fall‘s release is a BOOKS & COOKS video and the second episode in my BOOKS & COOKS series. It’s a series I occasionally do on my channel trying to re-create historically accurate recipes based on or inspired by books. For this episode, I’m attempting to recreate a Lentil Stew inspired by the stew Moriyah made, (and later a stew made by Rivkah) in the Cities of Refuge series. This video will release next Friday, June 28, 2019. Subscribe to my channel to make sure you don’t miss it.

If you’d like to watch the first episode in the BOOKS & COOKS series, making crepes inspired by The Heart Between Us by Lindsay Harrel, then you can certainly watch that in the meantime.

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WHEW!

We finally made it to the end!

That’s all for reviews and announcements this week, you guys. I really hope that you enjoyed reading this review and that you’re as excited about this book as I am. Don’t forget to pre-order/purchase Until the Mountains Fall if you’re interested or add it to your Goodreads TBR.

Keep an eye out here on the blog for more book reviews (subscribe via e-mail if you’d like them delivered straight to your inbox!) and don’t forget to check out those super fun videos as they release as well.

Congratulations to Connilyn Cossette on her release! And until next time,

Happy reading!

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Reading, Writing, and Living for Jesus

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Today I felt like it was time for a “proper” introduction post… More than a year after I started blogging!

*Technically* I’ve done an introductory post, but I think that’s just a “blog” thing in general. Your first post you introduce yourself and your blog and what its going to be about, despite the fact that your blog isn’t really about anything yet because you haven’t written it! Yep, I did one of those posts. While it served it’s purpose then of being THE FIRST BLOG POST, I don’t think it really captured the essence of what I want my blog and my platform to be about. So why not do an introduction now, now that I actually have something to introduce?

And if you’ve already been following me for a while, then stick around and read on anyways! You might learn something new about me or the history of my blog that you didn’t already know!

Here goes nothing…

In January of 2016, a lot of things happened to me. I got my first job, I realized that in a matter of months I’d be going away to my first semester of college, I had to start *actually* trying to learn to drive because when I moved to Arizona I was going to need to be able to get myself from the college campus to the nearest Starbucks, preferably legally and without accident.

More importantly however, I began to seriously develop my love for writing. And when I say develop, I mean hone my craft. Start learning and absorbing everything I could about drafting, editing, the publishing industry. I even started writing my own book that year, but it was merely a side-project that I was somehow still convinced would never be more than a hobby.

Well, well, well… A little over a year later, in the spring of 2017, I typed “THE END” on my first novel – if you can even call it that. I’ll spare your the boring and even gruesome details of its plot (it wasn’t good). But that feeling of finishing it was exhilarating, and I knew I wanted to write more. More importantly, I wanted to be published.

I started following “Authortubers,” which are, as the name implies, authors who are also YouTubers and make helpful tutorials and videos about the writing and publication process. Of course, one of the first things that many of these author tubers will tell you is that if you want to be noticed, you need to have a platform.

So, in the summer of 2017 I was even busier. I was getting married, moving to a house in Arizona, getting ready for another year of school, and in the midst of all of this, I made the crazy decision to buy a domain name because there’s no time like the present to start pursuing your dreams.

I didn’t actually launch my blog though. I bought a notebook and started writing down all my ideas, goals, hopes, dreams, anything that came to mind when I thought about “my platform.”

The first thing that I actually did, was create an instagram. I started posting mini book reviews and bookstagram photos, and making friends in the community. Then, after a few months in the spring of 2018, I finally felt confident enough to “go all in.” I set up my website, drafted some blog posts, filmed some YouTube videos – the whole package!!!

When it came around to creating a “brand” I’d always heard that your brand, your tagline, your blog name, whatever it is, should be to the point and specific. It should tell people who you are, what you do, and what makes you unique. I tried to come up with all kinds of crazy names. Stuff that rhymed, stuff that had alliteration, stuff that was catchy.

I felt like I didn’t have a “specific” enough brand. I didn’t want to be just a book blogger. Just a writer. I also wanted to share personal things as well. But every “rule” seemed to say that you had to pick one to be your niche. That’s when I realized… Jesus was the one theme that ran throughout all aspects of what I wanted my brand to be. So that’s what my brand became.

Reading, Writing, and Living for Jesus by Jenna Van Mourik.

So I’d like to introduce you to my blog, which serves exactly that purpose. To share the books I love, Christian Fiction mainly, that contain stories which share and spread God’s love. To write and promote my writing, in which I hope people will also find that same theme of God’s love running throughout. And finally, to share my life, whatever adventures it may contain, and to share how I do my best to live every day according to the way the Bible tells me.

If you like Christian Fiction, this is the place for you.

If you like writing, writing advice, and all the fun creative things that come with that hobby, then this is the place for you.

If you’re interested in my life, love pictures of cute puppies and ranting about little things like crunching leaves in the fall, blowing dandelion dust in the spring, going swimming in the summer, and playing in the snow in the winter, then this is the place for you.

If you love God, this. is. the. place. for. you.

I would be thrilled if you would subscribe to this blog if you haven’t already, and if you are subscribed, would you mind sharing this blog with a friend you think would also enjoy reading? It would make my day.

Of course, if blogs aren’t necessarily your thing, then let me remind you of all the other ways you can keep up with me and my “reading, writing, and living.” If you enjoy watching fun and sometimes humorous videos (i.e. vlogs, book reviews, challenges, and writing tutorials), then you might love my YouTube channel.

For artsy bookstagram photos featuring books you love and probably one to many props leaned up against a monochromatic background, you’ll love my Instagram.

And to keep up with me on a day-to-day basis, then check out my Twitter and my Facebook.

Thanks so much for stopping by and for taking the time to read this ramble-y and somewhat long-winded introduction, even if it did come a little late! I really do appreciate each and every one of you.

Until next time,

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Review: Of Fire and Lions by Mesu Andrews

F5428F3A-D9A6-4497-9686-CE80768E57A9This past week I was captured. I was a stranger in a foreign land. I was scared. I had my heart broken a few times. I found myself trapped in a fiery furnace, with no way of escape before me. I was thrown into a den of lions, terrified for my life. I was angry. I was bitter. I was in denial. And, in the end, I was restored and filled with hope. All between the lines and within the pages of Of Fire and Lions by Mesu Andrews, her newest release, coming out on March 5, 2019.

Let me share with you the synopsis of this book before I get started with my review:

The Old Testament book of Daniel comes to life in this novel for readers of Lynn Austin’s Chronicles of the Kings series or Francine Rivers’ Mark of the Lion series.

Survival. A Hebrew girl first tasted it when she escaped death nearly seventy years ago as the Babylonians ransacked Jerusalem and took their finest as captives. She thought she’d perfected in the many years amongst the Magoi and the idol worshippers, pretending with all the others in King Nebuchadnezzar’s court. Now, as Daniel’s wife and a septuagenarian matriarch, Belili thinks she’s safe and she can live out her days in Babylon without fear–until the night Daniel is escorted to Belshazzar’s palace to interpret mysterious handwriting on a wall. The Persian Army invades, and Bellili’s tightly-wound secrets unfurl with the arrival of the conquering army. What will the reign of Darius mean for Daniel, a man who prays to Yahweh alone?

Ultimately, Yahweh’s sovereign hand guides Jerusalem’s captives, and the frightened Hebrew girl is transformed into a confident woman, who realizes her need of the God who conquers both fire and lions.

As usual, one of the things I love most about Mesu Andrews’ writing is how detailed and well-researched it is. She truly makes history come to life! From the horrors of Jerusalem under siege, to the city bursting with people that is Babylon, I felt as though I was with Belili (the female lead) every step of the way. No, I was Belili. That’s how much the writing drew me in.

Daniel’s faith is matchless. How could he have doubted? He had seen the Lord deliver men from fire, and he would one day see himself delivered from lions. Could you go there? Even in the lion’s den, would you have faith in God? This book showcases total faith, absolute surrender to God, and the undeniable grace that covers all things, that only He can give. Full of deep emotion, passion, intrigue, and mystery, this is one Biblical fiction book you won’t want to miss!

Be inspired to deepen your own faith and pre-order Of Fire and Lions today!

I vlogged my reading experience for this book! Watch my reactions to Of Fire and Lions here:

Did I mention I’m also hosting a GIVEAWAY to win a copy of this book?  Head over to my Instagram to read all the details and enter! One winner (U.S. ONLY!!!) will be chosen at random on March 5th, 2019 at 8 PM EST. Best of luck! Trust me, you won’t want to miss this book!

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Special thanks to Waterbrook & Multnomah. I received a copy of this in exchange for an honest review of this book, all opinions are my own and I do not receive compensation for leaving a positive review.

Until next time everyone, happy reading!

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Review: In the Field of Grace by Tessa Afshar

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The best endings are only the beginning! And the ending may have been my favorite part of this novel, because it wasn’t an ending at all.

You all know the familiar tale of Ruth and Boaz. One of the great love stories of the Bible, the story of a kinsman redeemer who honored his duty and the story of a faithful young woman who refused to give up in times of hardship. These two figures come to life layer by layer in Tessa Afshar’s skillful writing, revealing deep spiritual truths that anyone can relate to.

And for real, I mean anyone! I listened to the audiobook version of this while my dad and I were working together on some home renovations. Even he enjoyed listening to the story, the writing, and the inner monologue of each character (Also, hi dad!!! I heard you read my blog posts sometimes! 😀 ).

There’s a little surprise in this novel as well for those who have read Pearl in the Sand, also by Tessa Afshar. It’s an “Easter egg,” if you will! Those who are “in on it” will thoroughly enjoy the message it carries over from Afshar’s previous work.

I meant what I said however, the ending of this book was only the beginning. Spoiler alert, but God used Ruth as one of the few recorded women in the lineage of Jesus Christ. The ending of this book was the beginning of a chapter in history, a part of God’s glorious plan to bring His people back to Him. Like all of Tessa Afshar’s books, this book points you back to Him in a way that leaves the reader feeling fulfilled, inspired, and hungry for more.

As I’ve said before, Tessa Afshar was my favorite discovery of 2018 which is when I first came across her books. If you haven’t already had the chance to read any of her work, then let 2019 be the year that you discover her books, and devour them all, as I am slowly but surely doing! You won’t be disappointed.

Until next time, happy reading!

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Favorite Book Covers: Historical

Today on my YouTube channel I’m starting a new SERIES. Yes, that’s a series of videos that I’m absolutely positive you book lovers will adore! I was inspired by my friend Alysha from the blog For The Love of Christian Fiction, who has done a similar series over on her YouTube channel, to share my favorite book covers of all time.

HOWEVER, I quickly realized that there were way too many for just one video. Like her, I’m going to be publishing several, separated by genre. All of them will be going up in this coming week. There are three parts, and as you know, I post to YouTube on Wednesdays and Fridays. One video went up today, another will go up on Friday, and the final video will be going up next Wednesday!

I can’t wait for you all to see them, but for now, here’s the first video in the series featuring my favorite HISTORICAL FICTION book covers!

Up next, Biblical fiction, followed by contemporary! I hope you all enjoy watching this series as much as I enjoyed filming them. Don’t forget to hit the like button if you enjoyed the video, and subscribe to my YouTube channel if you haven’t already. It really does help a creator out and enables them to bring you more of the content you love! #SupportGoodContent #SupportGoodBlogs

Until next time,

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#SupportGoodBlogs #SupportGoodContent

img_8457Hey! You! Yes you!

Here’s the thing about writing… you thought you chose this career because you hate numbers, right? Wrong! Numbers are even more important to writers than they are to mathematicians!

Example A:

A writer goes in to interview for a professional writing job…

Writer: I know my resume only has fast food worker on it, but I have a degree and I’m really talented!

Interviewer: oh that’s no problem, we accept entry-level people all the time. How’s your freelance writing going?

Writer: uhhh

Interviewer: Well, do you at least have a blog!

Writer: oh, yes!

Interviewer: Tell me the numbers

Writer: *stares in horror*

Now, the writer could try to explain that they have hundreds of followers on IG, maybe even thousands on Twitter or another platform – but does that matter to the publishing industry professional? Well, it’s important, but it’s secondary to how many people *actually* read your writing. img_8459

Numbers are important! And for bloggers and book reviewers? The same rules apply. Book blogging is EXPENSIVE. Have you seen the price of books? So a lot of us work with publishers or professional services to get free review copies of books. But no publisher is going to send a free copy of a book to someone, who’s reviews are only read by their mom and the 80 year old cat lady down the street from them who only signed up for the mailing list by accident while they were trying to order more cat food. They care about numbers! What happens when you don’t have numbers?

Blogger in blog post: Hey guys, and welcome back to another book review and blog post! Sorry, I don’t actually have a review for you this week… I didn’t have any books to review! I guess the future of this blog is pretty much… Well…

*silence*

Don’t even get me started on authors and indie-authors! The internet and internet traffic is one of the only opportunities they have to promote their work and *literally* make a living!!! Especially for self published Christian and inspirational authors, who don’t have the marketing team of a big publishing house to back them up. Without support and “numbers” – they might not be able to keep writing, because putting food on the table takes precedence. 

img_8461The internet is SATURATED with content. But it’s not all *good* content. Because what sells? Greed, deceit, drama, and negative content. Not necessarily the good stuff we want to fill our minds and hearts with, right?

This makes it even HARDER for a blogger whose goal is to create inspiring, faith-based content to break out into the industry. Because faith-based content, isn’t always the popular kind of content. Do you want to keep seeing positive content in your inbox? Then you need to start supporting the bloggers that bring that content to you, because it’s hard work. 

Over a thousand of you follow me on IG. Almost 200 on YouTube. On my blog? Ten of you. Ten. That’s like… one percent!!! 

I get it. We all hear the phrase *link in bio* but when do we ever actually CLICK the link in bio? Hardly ever. It’s not as accessible to us. We’d rather scroll. img_8458

Well guys, it’s really easy to get my reviews and follow my blog! All you have to do is click the link once, and go and sign up with your e-mail address! From then on, my posts will be sent right to your inbox. No more clicking and refreshing and clicking and refreshing. And as for me? No more posting messages like this!

And I’m not being greedy here. I want you to go and follow ALL of the blogs. Any reviewer, writer, or author that you know… If you like good content, support good content – because without support, that good content might start to disappear. 

I mean, for real. Even if you’re not interested in book bloggers or author blogs or review blogs. Chances are, you’re on WordPress because you like SOME kind of blog. You may even run a blog of your own! Lifestyle? Crafts? Tech blogging? Whatever it is, whatever blog you have, whatever blog you love – the message is the same! Support that blog. The numbers don’t just matter to us writers and reviewers, they matter to anyone who is trying to turn their dream into reality. To make their passions their full-time job. If you know someone pursuing a creative endeavor, you need to support them.

img_8462You know that I’m giving shout outs to other bloggers who share my blog on my Instagram stories. Even though I can’t speak for other bloggers, share share their blogs too, and share this message if you agree with it. Don’t forget to hashtag it #SupportGoodBlogs and #SupportGoodContent. Because it takes a village, and each of you are a part of my village!

Let’s all keep supporting each other and building positive communities, alright?

I’m going to keep reaching out to other bloggers, because I don’t just want to be the speaker on the soapbox. I want to practice what I preach too. If you think you have a blog that I’d be interested in supporting, be sure to comment it! I’m also going to start committing more time to this platform, and investing in this blog more. I can’t expect a following to arise suddenly, when there isn’t much content to be consumed. Good thing is, it’s the New Year! It’s the perfect time to start fresh and set goals, and these are just some of mine. I hope supporting fellow creators is on your list too!

 

Until next time,

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Fall Favorites – 2018!

A few of my favorite things from this Fall, the best of them all! Books, candles, and ALL of the things!!!

IMG_7344 There are so many things to love about this season and time of year. Now, hear me out, I know that this is completely insane. Fall is what really? A time where pretty much all plant life dies and decays by turning into various shades of red, orange, and brown until ultimately the leaves wither into nothingness in preparation for the coming harshness of winter. Still, there’s nothing more magical than the latter months of the year in my opinion. As crazy as it sounds, fall to me means rebirth and rejuvenation! Those darkening leaves and cool breezes? I find them beautiful.

Maybe it’s because of my allergies that I associate springtime with a general feeling of death, but we’ll save that for another post!

As you can see, I LOVE fall. Or have you not gotten that message yet? Here are a few of the things that have been making my fall-time even more beautiful!

  1. Karen Witemeyer Books – Every fall, I normally settle in with my blankets, a candle, and the entire When Calls the Heart collection (AKA, the Canadian West series). Something about Canada and historical fiction just screams fall to me. While I haven’t gotten around to my annual reread of When Calls the Heart, Karen Witemeyer’s books have been a great alternative for filling all of my historical fiction needs!
  2. Shelter of the Most High by Connilyn Cossette – One of my favorite things about this fall has been being apart of the launch team for this book, getting to read it and promote it! It’s a fantastic read and I’d recommend it to anyone! Conni is, and probably always will be, a Biblical fiction queen!
  3. CANDLES – Ok, we’re book nerds. We love reading. But you know what makes reading instantly better? Every. single. time.??? Reading near an open flame. A cozy candle, bonus points if it’s pumpkin or cinnamon scented, makes reading all the more enjoyable during these cold, rainy evenings. Just make sure you read a safe distance away from your candle. I shouldn’t have to say this, but JUST IN CASE, this is your friendly reminder that books are made of paper, and they can and WILL burn if they come into too close of contact with fire!!!
  4. WRITING – True. I write all of the time. But there’s something about falling back into a chair, staring pensively out the window watching the storms ensue, and tapping a pencil on the crisp, blank pages of a notebook. In those moments, we authors have ultimate power.

Of course, there’s more. Isn’t there always more? Be sure to watch my Fall Favorites YouTube video on my channel for even more wonderfully fall-ish recommendations! Tis the season to be… fall-y? Whatever. Just watch the video! And don’t forget to subscribe to my blog so you don’t miss a single update or bookish review/recommendation! Until then,

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