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The Pharoah's Daughter, by Mesu Andrews, Fiction, 2015

 

We know the Bible stories from the perspective of the lead characters God calls and shapes.  But what would happen if we saw the same story from the perspective of a key secondary character.  This is the gift of research specialist and amazing storyteller, Mesu Andrews.  The Pharaoh’s Daughter tells the story of Moses from the perspective of the one who found him in the Nile and raised him as her own.  While she fills in gaps with her own, satisfying what-if details, she has also linked some fascinating details from the biblical genealogy.  For example, she draws the two midwifes, Shiphrah and Puah, into the heart of this story in remarkable ways. 

 

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A Light So Lovely, by Sara Arthur, Nonfiction, 2018

 

I have waited for this book’s availability as soon as I read that it was being written.  It is a book about Madeleine L’Engle, Newberry winner for A Wrinkle in Time and the unplanned creator of a new genre for young adult Christian fiction:  Christian fantasy.  Sarah Arthur is a die-hard fan of L’Engle whose own writing and editorial career was shaped significantly by reading her books and meeting her.  Arthur’s book summarizes the spiritual legacy of this sometimes loved and often misunderstood author.  The book introduce you to the formative details of Madeleine’s life using her writing and the people who knew her.  Chapter titles preview the journey you will take about the "Sacred and Secular," "Truth and Story," "Faith and Science," Religion and Art," among others.  This book is for those who want a thoughtful stretch in areas that may not be comfortable.  This book is not for everybody. 

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If I Were You, by Lynn Austin, Fiction, 2020

Lynn Austin is a storyteller.  I read the manuscript for the first in her series Chronicles of the Kings (Old Testament kings and prophets) when I served on the consulting board for Beacon Hill, who first published it. Based first in England before and during World War II, it is a story about an emerging friendship between the upstairs aristocrat and a downstairs maid.  When the war offers a leveling space, their lives entangle in ways that change their futures after the war.  It is a story of leaving expectations and privilege to grow courage.  It is a story of leaving jealousy, secrets, and shame to find forgiveness.  It is a good story!

 

Invitation to Solitude and Silence by Ruth Haley Barten, Devotional/Spiritual Formation, 2009

 

Contrary to what you might think, this book doesn’t ask you to pull away from your life and people to find silence for your soul.  The pandemic has pushed us in that direction enough!  Instead, my take away from this book is a way to make a space for silence in my heart where I expect to hear what God wants me to know. Ruth Barton is a spiritual formation director and retreat leader.  I found her thoughts inspiring, convicting and her suggestions easy and doable.  This book is for anyone who needs help listening more or who needs to take a break from the noise of your busy world, even if all the noise comes from yourself.

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The Things We Cannot Say, by Kelly Rimmer, Fiction, 2019

I’ve read many World War II stories, but none that took place in Poland.  This book leap frogs between the present story and the past story.  I am usually not fond of this technique, but this time it worked so well, I looked forward to time change.  Allina is the young girl in the past story, lost in young love before the Nazi invasion that changed everything.  Alice is the granddaughter who accepts her grandmother's dying wish to return to Poland for missing pieces to her story.  There are many things that these characters cannot say. The grandmother is silenced by a paralyzing stroke, Alice feels no one understands her autistic son except herself, her son can only speak through his iPad, and Allina’s Thomaz is in a one-man war against the Nazi’s and can’t explain to Allina why he is so driven.  The twists and turns make this a hauntingly satisfying story to remind all of us that we have words we haven’t spoken.  What are we waiting for?

The year is 1508 and the Pope is Julius II.  The pope commissioned Michelangelo to paint the ceiling of the Pope’s chapel in the Vatican.  Michelangelo, a sculptor by gift and heart, refused the commission until the Pope also commissioned a sculpture.  This acceptance initiated the masterpiece thousands want to see with a visit to the Vatican.  The book gives background no Google search can give you in one place.  You will learn the process behind the frescoes, the background for the choices and placement of each panel, as well as the jealousies that existed in the art world at that time.  Now, I wish I could make another visit to the Sistine Chapel ceiling, strain my neck, and soak in the many-layered Old and New Testament stories painted there!

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Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling, Ross King, Non-fiction, 2003

 

Between 1787 and 1868, the British government transported an estimated 25,000 female convicts to Australia.  These women had been convicted of petty crimes.  The idea was two-fold:  unburden the penal institutions and help settle British holdings in Australia.  This book tells the mostly true and sometimes fictionalized account of one voyage of 200 women.  Hope Adams is a master at placing you on the fifteen-week journey on the Rajah.  She weaves her story of confinement, broken dreams, new hope, and sisterhood with a back-and-forth time division between then and now.  When one of the women is murdered, the story becomes a mystery to solve.  A page turner at the end, this book will anger you, surprise you, and give you every reason to hope for new beginnings no matter how many splintered pieces life gives.

Dangerous Women by Hope Adams, Historical Fiction, 2021
 

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 Carnegie's Maid by Marie Benedict, Historical Fiction, 2018
 

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We know the Bible stories from the perspective of the lead characters God calls and shapes.  But what would happen if we saw the same story from the perspective of a key secondary character.  This is the gift of research specialist and amazing storyteller, Mesu Andrews.  The Pharaoh’s Daughter tells the story of Moses from the perspective of the one who found him in the Nile and raised him as her own.  While she fills in gaps with her own, satisfying what-if details, she has also linked some fascinating details from the biblical genealogy.  For example, she draws the two midwifes, Shiphrah and Puah, into the heart of this story in remarkable ways. 

 

 

Sharing the Old Testament by fiction is not an easy task, but Mesu Andrews is the one to do it.  Her vast Old Testament research and her penchant for storytelling is an unbeatable mix.  When an Israelite woman is captured by a Scythian prince during the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, both of their lives are changed forever. This is a love story, a story of systemic revenge, a story of destruction and loss as well as a story of  hope for rebuilding. Truly worth the read.

By the Waters of Babylon  by Mesu Andrews, Biblical Fiction, 2018
 

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