City on Fire: A Novel of Pompeii

City on Fire: A Novel of Pompeii by Tracy L. HigleyCity on Fire: A Novel of Pompeii follows the travails of Ariella, a young Jewess, who is captured by the Romans during the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. and sold into slavery.   Just before being captured by the Romans Ariella fleetingly catches sight of someone who might be her brother.

Nine years later, the hope that she will one day be reunited with her brother is the only thing that keeps her sane. When the opportunity arises, Ariella escapes from her sadistic slave owner and transforms herself into a boy to join a troop of gladiators. [Read more…]

Review: So Shines the Night

So Shines the NightSo Shines the Night by Tracy Higley is a wonderful book that I highly recommend.  When I chose this book to review from Booksneeze, I didn’t have high expectations. I’m not a “romance” person and the cover made me wonder if this was going to be another of those “Oh I was lost and a big strong man came and saved me” book.  I am so happy that I took the chance AND that my assumptions were incorrect!

I would place this book in the Christian/Historical Fiction categories. It focuses on the early church and the events that occurred when the Apostle Paul was in the city of Ephesus angering not only those who worshipped Artemis, but the powerful sorcerers and merchants of the city. The focus is on the events primarily discussed in Acts chapters 18 and 19.

In addition to covering the historical time, through the lives of Daria and Lucas (our protaganists) So Shines the Night  takes the reader on a journey of growth, self-examination and, for those brave enough to embrace what they find, acceptance of who are and what we want to be as a person. There is plenty of suspense and mystery about who Lucas really is and what is his real motive behind his strange behavior — where does his loyalties truly lie?

What impresses me the most about this book is the way it sucked me into the world of the early Christians. Ms. Higley took events from one of my favorite books in the Bible and made it more real than my imagination ever could.  I now have a clear picture of how confusing it would have been for Christians and seekers alike to decide on a course of worship during this time period — Greek gods, Roman gods, Christians, sorcerers — you name it and they had it.

So, would I recommend this book to others? You betcha! I have already encouraged a number of my friends to get a copy for themselves. The writing is enjoyable, the characters are well developed and the stories are thought provoking. Even if you aren’t religiously inclined, it is an enjoyable historical novel as well. I’m looking forward to reading more of her works in the future.

 

Review

Sarah’s Wish Stole My Heart

Sarahs Wish invites you to enter the 19th century world of secrets and broken promises, runaways and slave catchers, colorful gypsies and noisy riverboats, and Granny. Although Grannys hilarious dialect and lively antics are sure to keep you laughing, not all is happy. Emotions take a ride as Sarahs big wish appears hopeless. But when life is at its darkest, the butterflies come!

"Sarah's Wish invites you to enter the 19th century world of secrets and broken promises, runaways and slave catchers, colorful gypsies and noisy riverboats, and Granny. Although Granny's hilarious dialect and lively antics are sure to keep you laughing, not all is happy. Emotions take a ride as Sarah's big wish appears hopeless. But when life is at it's darkest, the butterflies come!"

“Sarah’s Wish” is the creation of Jim Baumgardner, an entertaining storyteller and easy-going person (as evidenced in his monthly newsletters). This is the first in the growing series of books. The other two completed stories are called “Sarah’s Promise” and “Sarah’s Escape”. Sarah’s Wish shines a light on a period of time that is usually glossed over — the period just before the Civil War — and demonstrates how abolitionists worked to help runaway slaves get to freedom as well as the risks they took to maintain their integrity to their personal beliefs. The bounty hunters were a force to be reckoned with and we get a chance to see just how cruel a person can become when greed becomes their sole motivator.

When I received the book I was in the middle of a “crisis” since my son was very ill with a stomach flu so I only gave it a cursory glance. Since I was too swamped with Michael, I asked my nine-year old if she’d like to read the book first. She opted out because she’s in the middle of  “Cheaper by the Dozen” and (I believe) glanced at the typeface and decided it was going to be one of those boring books.

Actually when I first looked at the type I kinda groaned because I thought that it would be a difficult read, but boy was I wrong.  During one of my all night sick bed sessions with Michael I opened up the book and didn’t put it down until I finished it. After reading the opening which explained how Sarah became an orphan I was hooked and her mother’s last words. It wasn’t the tragedy that hooked me. It was the way that Sarah’s heart and spirit shone through Jim’s words. I felt that she was a real person, and one that was worth getting to know better. And she’s definitely someone that my children will know very well indeed since I’m purchasing the next two books in the series!

Isn’t the cover art for the book beautiful? But don’t be fooled — this book contains secrets like you wouldn’t believe. Each book in the series has an e|Live component to it. What’s e|Live? It’s a way to make books interactive for people. When you purchase the book, you not only get a physical book, but the audiobook as well.

And I’m eternally grateful for this because my family listens to a lot of audiobooks while driving and this is a guaranteed way for my youngest daughter to appreciate the entire story. She’s a beginning reader and although the book is only 128 pages, by the end of the day my good intentions to read to her each night sometimes falls apart. With the audio download that I can burn to CD she’s guaranteed the opportunity to learn how special Sarah is.

I highly recommend the Sarah Series for the whole family. The values it teaches are simply stated, clearly demonstrated and well worth implementing in our every day lives.

P.S. Jade finally got around to reading the book after my initial review and guess who wants me to pick up the next installment … I guess Mommy does know best. 🙂

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