Book Review: The Heart of a King by Jill Eileen Smith

the heart of a king jill eileen smith

Synopsis:

Get swept away by a story of love, loss, and longing

King Solomon could--and did--have anything he wanted, including many women from many lands. But for all of his wealth and wisdom, did he or the women he loved ever find what they were searching for?

In this engrossing novel, find yourself whisked away to ancient Israel, where you'll meet four remarkable women: Naamah the desert princess, Abishag the shepherdess, Siti the daughter of a pharaoh, and Nicaula the queen of Sheba. As you experience the world of Solomon through his eyes and theirs, you'll grapple with whether this king's storied wisdom ultimately benefited him and those he loved . . . or betrayed them.

  • Genre: Biblical Fiction

  • Published: 4/30/2019

  • Publisher: Revell

  • Pages: 432

  • Goodreads Rating: 4.47 Stars

Praise for the Daughters of the Promised Land Series

"Smith infuses this well-known story with emotional depth and a modern sensibility not typically seen in historical novels."--Publishers Weekly on A Passionate Hope

"[A] richly descriptive and dramatic novel."--Booklist on Redeeming Grace

"Impeccable research and vivid prose."--Library Journal on The Crimson Cord


Heidi’s Rating:

5 Stars

Suggested Drink Pairings:

Tea:

Moroccan Mint Tea

Coffee:

Arabic Coffee


And all the kings of the earth sought the presence of Solomon to hear his wisdom, which God had put into his mind.
— 2 Chronicles 9:23

Why I Chose This Book

When I first heard about this book I was so ecstatic to read it. Biblical fiction is one of my favorite sub genres of Christian Fiction. I also really like Jill’s writing so I was excited to read her new book.

First Initial Thoughts

The book starts out with Solomon as a prince and King David is still ruling over the land with Queen Bathsheba. Solomon really wants to become Co-Regent so that one day he can become King.

In this story there are 4 main women that he eventually marries and has children with. However, Biblical accounts state that King Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines. I couldn’t imagine! Keeping tabs on all the wives and children…

Naamah is the first wife Solomon takes during his reign. He marries her before King David passes away. I kind of found her to be clingy and determined to be the only wife of King Solomon. However, Solomon does not feel the same way about her. I think she knew all along that his love was unrequited but she was determined to show him that her love was all he needed.

When King David is about to die, Abishag is hired to become his wife. There she takes care of King David in his last days. Abishag is a daughter of a shepherdess. Definitely not fit to be a wife of a King but Solomon finds her attractive and slowly falls in love with her. Abishag was probably my favorite wife of his. She was obedient, devoted, and truly did love Solomon.

Just as we are introduced to Abishag we meet Siti. Siti is the daughter of a Pharaoh in Egypt. King Solomon must go to Egypt because they took over Gezer. And King Solomon wants it back. To get back Gezer he has to marry Siti. He is not happy about this because Siti does not believe in God and wants to practice her ways back in Jerusalem. I was kind of indifferent with Siti. She kind of did have an influence on Solomon however, and seemed to get whatever she asked for. She was definitely spoiled…

Towards the end we meet Queen Sheba. She rules over Sheba or what we now know as Ethopia. King Solomon wants to trade with her to obtain her exotic spices and animals. I liked Queen Sheba. She was smart, witty and knew how to rule a land. And she wasn’t afraid to. However, I didn’t like what she did to King Solomon towards the end.

Setting

The book is primarily set in Israel but we are taken to far away places such as Ethopia and Egypt. It was so interesting to learn about the land during that time and what people called the various places compared to what they call them now. Jill really did an amazing job immersing the reader into ancient Israel, its culture, and history. It definitely seemed like a magical place.

He had 700 wives, princesses, and 300 concubines. And his wives turned away his heart.
— 1 Kings 11:3

Final Thoughts

King Solomon… he was definitely what we could call a… player. I found that he would marry just about anyone to gain allegiance and lands. Whether or not he loved them. I did find him to be honorable though and he did try to keep peace over the land. I think that is why he took on so many wives because he wanted to avoid conflict. He would marry the daughters of their opponent’s land just to save bloodshed.

However, as the story went on it seemed like he further and further went away from laws of God. One particular law as we all know - is to not have in abundance. And King Solomon was the epitome of abundance. As stated above he took on so many wives and also built many palaces, owned thousands of horses, and owned many chariots. I didn’t have a feeling that he was greedy. I think he just didn’t know how to rule in terms of conflict.

What I found interesting is that I didn’t know is that Jill already wrote eBooks’s on all of the wives mentioned in this book. So I found that some were surprised that this book was kind of repetitive and re told the stories from those eBook’s. I have never read them so these stories were new to me. But I could see this being an issue with fans of Jill’s books.

What also surprised me is that I didn’t end up hating any of his wives in this story. Mostly I just found one of their traits or personality annoying but I didn’t find that I didn’t like them.

Would I Recommend?

Yes! If you have read Jill’s previous eBook’s the stories may seem familiar but I like that she put them all together and re wrote them. It’s great for those that want to save time and just want to read one book.

About The Author

jill eileen smith

Jill Eileen Smith is the bestselling and award-winning author of the biblical fiction series The Wives of King David, Wives of the Patriarchs, and Daughters of the Promised Land, as well as the nonfiction book When Life Doesn't Match Your Dreams. Her research into the lives of biblical women has taken her from the Bible to Israel, and she particularly enjoys learning how women lived in Old Testament times. Jill lives with her family in southeast Michigan.

Connect With Jill:

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Purchase Links:

Amazon | B & N | Audible | Apple Books

Have you read about King Solomon in the Bible? If so, what do you think of him?

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Note: I am part of the launch team for this book. Therefore, I was sent a copy of this book from the publisher to review and promote. I was not compensated to do this however.

Book Review: The Tinderbox by Beverly Lewis

The Tinderbox blog.jpg

Synopsis:

With her Amish parents' twentieth anniversary approaching, eighteen-year-old Sylvia Miller stumbles across a surprise--the old brass tinderbox her clockmaker father keeps in his Lancaster County shop has been left unlocked. Against her better judgment, Sylvia opens the cherished heirloom, not realizing that what she is about to discover will splinter apart her happy life.

Sylvia's bewilderment grows when her father confronts her about snooping in the box. To her amazement, the respected convert to the Old Order reacts as if he has something to hide.

Burdened by the weight of his deception, Earnest Miller decides he must reveal the details about his past to his beloved wife, Rhoda. The long-kept secret alters everything for the close-knit family, jeopardizing Earnest and Rhoda's relationship, as well as threatening Sylvia's recent engagement to the preacher's grandson.

Can the Millers find a way forward through the turmoil to a place of forgiveness and acceptance?

  • Genre: Amish Fiction

  • Published: 4/2/2019

  • Publisher: Bethany House

  • Pages: 320

  • Goodreads Rating: 4.30 Stars


Heidi’s Rating:

4 Stars

Suggested Drink Parings:

Tea: Sweet Iced Tea

Coffee: Cinnamon Latte


I’ve marveled at Dat’s ability to accept the Old Ways so readily, considering his modern upbringing. Mamma says it’s like he was born to be Amish. Maybe so, but all the same, I wished I knew something more about his past.
— Sylvia

Why I Chose This Book

The Tinderbox is the chosen book this month for the Bethany House Blogger program. I absolutely love Beverly’s books so I was excited to read her new release.

First Initial Thoughts

Sylvia is a young woman who has a loving family and boyfriend. Everything is going right until she opens her father’s box in his shop. Her father was not always Amish. He came into the Amish community when he was in his 20s and after proving himself to the community, he married Rhoda, Sylvia’s mother. His past is unknown and he rarely talks about it with his wife and children.

Rhoda and Earnest, Sylvia’s parents are very much in love and have that kind of relationship that we look up to having in our own marriage. However, once Sylvia opens that box, the whole family and relationship are tested.

Titus is Sylvia’s boyfriend. In the beginning he proposes to Sylvia and she is beyond excited. What I found odd is that they only were courting for a few months and never kissed. While I understand that the Amish are conservative, I had no idea they were that conservative. So it was clear to me from the start, that Sylvia’s Amish community was very traditional. I didn’t really like Titus, something about him just didn’t feel right. I won’t go into much, but the actions he conveyed just seemed odd.

Setting

As always Beverly has a talent in immersing you into the Amish community. Each Amish community has different rules on whether or not they have access to technology or electricity. It was hard to tell if this book was set back in the early 20th century because no technology or electricity was mentioned. However, when they did mention “Uber” it was clear it was set in modern day time. Therefore, it’s clear that Sylvia’s Amish community does not have access to telephone, electricity, etc.

That time could turn up his swift sandy glass, to untell the days, and to redeem these hours.
— Thomas Heywood

Final Thoughts

What was inside the box, I kind of guessed from the beginning. I won’t spoil anything, but the contents inside the box really weren’t that bad. But I could see how it would cause issues within the family. I think that without Rhoda and Earnest’s love for each other, they wouldn’t have tried to make things work out. This book is about all about trusting one another and learning to forgive. Trusting in God to understand that time heals everything. I really liked how strong their family was and their willingness to forgive each other.

Also, the book just kind of… ended. Not until the author note in the back did I find out that this is part of a duo-logy. The second book in the series is set to come out this November.

I also really felt for Sylvia. At 18 you should really know better not to snoop in other people’s belongings. However, as human nature goes we are curious and must know what’s inside. I think this situation is similar to other stories in the Bible - where people are tempted to do things they really shouldn’t do. Later in their story they learn from their mistakes and receive forgiveness not only from the people around them but also Christ.

Titus also plays an important role later on in the book and Sylvia has to re think her relationship with him. I won’t say much beyond that, but I didn’t like what TItus did. I hope they both find redemption in the next book.

Would I Recommend?

Yes, most definitely. I think if you are a fan of Amish fiction and of Beverly’s books, you will throughly enjoy this one.



Would you ever move to the Amish country and become Amish? I don’t know if I could. Share in the comments!

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Note: I was sent a copy of this book from the publisher to review. All opinions are my own.

Book Review: Under The Midnight Sun by Tracie Peterson

under the midnight sky tracie peterson book review

Synopsis:

Tayler Hale is ahead of her time as one of the first women naturalists. She has always loved adventure and the great outdoors, and her remote job location also helps keep her away from the clutches of the man to whom she once made a foolish promise. It seems she must keep running, however, and in secret, her boss from Yellowstone arranges for a new job . . . in Alaska.

The popular Curry Hotel continues to thrive in 1929 as more visitors come to Alaska and venture into the massive national park surrounding Denali. Recent graduate Thomas Smith has returned to the hotel and the people he considers family. But when a woman naturalist comes to fill the open position and he must work with her, everything becomes complicated.

The summer brings unexpected guests and trouble to Curry. With his reputation at stake, will Thomas be able to protect Tayler from the danger that follows?

  • Genre: Christian Historical Fiction/Romance

  • Publisher: Bethany House Publishing

  • Published: 01/2019

  • Pages: 315

  • Goodreads Rating: 4.43 Stars


Heidi’s Rating:

4 1/2 Stars

Suggested Drink Parings

Tea: Huckleberry Tea

Coffee: Espresso


And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.
— 1 John 3 23-24

Why I Chose This Book

I absolutely adore this series. Tracie knows how to write a series that hooks you in from the start. I have been looking forward to reading the final book in this series and happy I finally had the chance to read it!

First Initial Thoughts

Tayler is a young lady who just graduated college with a degree in Botany and plans to be a naturalist and interpreter. We start the story with her as a young teenager on a camping trip with her Father. She absolutely adores her father and is what we call a “daddy’s girl”. He takes her fishing, camping, and hiking despite her mother’s pleas not too. We also are introduced to her brother and his friend, Emerson. Emerson is smitten on Tayler. And Tayler likes him too or at least she thinks she does.

As the story moves forward 10 years we find out that her father just passed away. We also find out that Emerson is not a good man. I won’t spoil the reasons but let’s just say he is an a'*!!H.

Tayler has a new position in Yellowstone but her mother and Emerson has other plans. Ever since her father passed away her mother has been acting odd. Emerson wants to marry her but Tayler absolutely does not want to marry him due to his past. Tayler finds it odd that they are both pressuring her so hard on this marriage - and her mother is being quite mysterious about her unusual actions and friendship with a new man.

We met Thomas in the previous story and in this story Thomas is all grown up and has returned from college. He is now working with Allen as a tour guide for the hotel guests. The hotel is increasingly getting more and more guests and tour requests. Because of this they need to hire more experts in the field. Thomas was quite surprised that Tayler was the new hire - at first we think it’s because she is a woman but we find out the real reason later on.

The real Curry Hotel. Image via: John's Alaska Railroad Page

The real Curry Hotel. Image via: John's Alaska Railroad Page

Setting

This series is entirely set within the Curry Hotel and surrounding area. The Curry Hotel was a real hotel in the early 20th century and very popular with the wealthy. Before National Parks were accessible to everyone, only the elite and wealthy were able to afford and visit the national parks. I have always wanted to visit Alaska, and this story brings the beauty of that state alive. Tracie does such a great job immersing us into the environment and what it was like to operate a hotel during that time.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
— Proverbs 3:5-6

Final Thoughts

This is the third book in the series. I felt that it could be read as a standalone in the series. However, they did bring in characters from the previous two books, so it may be slightly confusing. Though I definitely think you could read it without reading the other two books first.

Tayler grew a lot throughout this story. Not only did she have to let go of the thought that all men are spiteful but she had to learn to forgive Emerson and her Mother. This is a huge lesson we all have to go through a few times in our lives. I also liked the fact that Tracie mentioned the fact that running away doesn’t solve the issue. Tayler ran away from home to Yellowstone without resolving her issues. We all have to learn how to forgive and love those around you - even your enemies.

Thomas, the other main character in the story, he also had to learn to forgive. I liked that Tayler and Thomas were so similar to each other even though they grew up in completely different backgrounds. They both had similar circumstances in regards to their relationships prior. I think that helped them connect on a deeper level as they both could relate.

This series wrapped up so nicely and it was nice to get closure on all the character’s stories. I am kind of sad though that we won’t get an update on all the characters after all the events. But that is what our imagination is for!

Would I Recommend?

Yes! I would definitely recommend reading the other two books first, however. Anyone interested in Alaska and nature will absolutely adore this series.


You can purchase the book —-> HERE

Have you been to Alaska? If so, share your thoughts/experiences in the comments!

the caffeinated bibliophile

Book Review: Of Fire and Lions by Mesu Andrews

of fire and lions mesu andrews book review

Synopsis:

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.

  • Genre: Biblical Fiction

  • Publisher: Waterbrook Press

  • Published: 3/15/2019

  • Pages: 400

  • Goodreads Rating: 4.71 Stars

Of Fire and Lions Mesu andrews book review
In that moment, I knew my greatest failures as a mother hadn’t been protecting my children too fiercely or even holding back secrets. My most dire mistake had been neglecting to trust Yahweh’s power and sufficiency in both their lives and my own.
— Belili

Why I Chose This Book

I am part of Mesu Andrew’s BFF Program so I was told about this book a few months before it came out. I was absolutely excited to read Mesu’s book because I always found the Book of Daniel interesting and inspiring.

First Initial Thoughts

When I first opened this book, there was 3 pages list of characters. I was like… oh boy. I have to remember all these people?! Sometimes, a story with a lot of characters can be overwhelming and a little confusing.

The beginning of the book we start off with the invasion of Jerusalem (how many times does this city get invaded?!). Abigail (later known as Belili) is taken prisoner and is made maid for Daniel and his best friends. During this time they become fast friends and are very close. But that was only for so long.

As the story progresses though we see Belili be taken again and eventually married to a man named Gadi. Before she became his wife, she was a high priestess. These are women who served in temples. During this time she was so ashamed of her life- and who wouldn’t blame her. Gadi is a good man. I actually did like him. He wasn’t mean or spiteful. They had a son together named Allamu, and he has an important role later on in the story.

I liked Daniel. He was so sweet, kind, and loyal to everyone he met, despite his status. He truly had so much faith in God, and that was very inspiring.

Setting

The last time I ever read a book about Babylon was The Odyssey back in High School. So it’s been a few years. I remember learning briefly about Babylon in my Archaeology classes but it wasn’t taught extensively. Mesu brings Babylon to life. It’s rich culture, traditions, and people were well researched and I felt like I was there right along with the characters. Also, fact of the day if you didn’t know. Babylon was once located in the present day Iraq - about a few miles south of Baghdad. I personally don’t know too much about that region so it was interesting to learn more about it.

Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy Place.
— Daniel 9:24

Final Thoughts

Poor Belili. Mesu is a master at emotion in a book. I really felt Belili’s pain throughout this book. I won’t spoil anything but I just wanted to give her a big hug! She definitely went through some major and traumatic events in her life but she kept on going. I really admired her for that. She was so ashamed of her past as a Priestess that she was too blind to see the faith she had in God all along. I am sure some people in that circumstance wouldn’t be able to carry on afterward because of the shame.

I loved how Mesu wrote the two stories we learned as a child about Daniel. The first one being of the fireplace and God saving Daniel’s best friends from the fire. And the second being of Daniel in the Lion’s den. These stories are stories of faith and trust in God. Trusting in God when all things could go wrong.

Speaking of trust, Daniel was ever so faithful to God the entire story. I also think he helped Belili restore her faith and provide an example of true faith. I also really liked them together. The only thing I found kind of odd was that they both loved each other at the age of 10. I just found that kind of…interesting. I for one don’t think that one could really understand love at age 10 but it was a different time back then and many women were married off by the age of 14. However, in the story their love stands the test of time throughout the entire book- so that was reassuring.

Even though this book is only 400 pages, I felt like it was a long epic story. Some sections of the book dragged on a little too long but I think that was done on purpose to create a backstory and suspense. Even though there were a ton of characters, I didn’t feel like I forgot who each person was and how they were important to the story.

Would I Recommend?

Oh yes! Fans of the story of Daniel and the Lions will absolutely love a take on that story. Even though we learned about this story as a child, I would say this is the more adult version. It definitely has some violence so I would only suggest for ages 16+.



You can purchase the book —-> HERE

Have you read the Book of Daniel? If so, what were your thoughts?



the caffeinated bibliophile

Note: I was sent an ARC copy of this book to review from the publisher. All opinions are my own.