Isaiah’s Daughter ~ Book Review

See the source imageHey y’all!

I know it’s been a long time since I’ve last done a book review, so I thought I would change that! Today, I’m going to be doing one on Isaiah’s Daughter by Mesu Andrews. I’ve read several of her books, and have enjoyed each one. I’ll try to start doing some more reviews to give y’all a better idea of what they’re like, but trust me, they’re great! 🙂

Isaiah’s Daughter: A Novel of Prophets and Kings is a biblical fiction novel tracing the story of Hephzibah – Queen of Judah and wife to King Hezekiah. She is a real person and character in the Bible, however, the only difference in this book or the part that brings the fiction element in, is the Scriptures do not say she was the adopted daughter of Isaiah.

Nevertheless, this book is firmly rooted in truth and the Bible. Each chapter references a Scripture at the beginning, that helps the reader to understand at what point the author is getting this inspiration from – something I appreciated.

Being the list-maker that I am, I also loved how before the story even starts, Mesu lists out all the major and minor characters that appear in this story. She tells you which ones are mentioned in the Bible, and which she used the Holy Spirit, discretion, and creative liberty to create; along with, who they are.

I’ve always enjoyed reading biblical fiction, and this one was no different. If you’ve never read a biblical fiction book before, then I highly suggest you check out some of Mesu Andrews! Personally, I find reading them helps the characters in the Bible to come alive further, makes them more relatable, and reminds me that even though they were great men and women of God, they were still human too.

Some characters that you might be familiar with, if you’ve read Scripture, are Isaiah, Micah – also a prophet, King Hezekiah, and his father King Ahaz. There are plenty of female characters as well, but their names might not be as familiar to y’all – Isaiah’s wife – mentioned in Scripture, but I believe not named specifically? Anyway, Mesu does give her a name! 🙂 Along with, the mother of Hezekiah, Queen Abijah and his wife, Queen Hephzibah.

I found it really interesting that in the book, and I’m sure based on what evidence she could find and therefore make an hypothesis/injecture upon, Isaiah was a royal tutor and had royal blood in him. Now, for this blog post I’ve done a little research, and as far as I can tell, the Bible does not mention either of these.

However, I was reading on BBC’s website, in their article on Isaiah, written from a professor at the University of Oxford, and he said,

“What is more, he seems to have had easy access to the royal court (see especially chapter 7), and to be well informed about the affairs of state. It is therefore generally assumed that he came from a family that would have been included in the ruling classes; whether he was in fact related to the royal family in some way is possible, though entirely unknown.

From the way he writes we can see that he was well educated in the best traditions of the time. It is not just his fine use of language which impresses, but also the way that he incorporates insights from the distilled wisdom of the Israelite people. It is probable that such material will have formed an important part of the national curriculum of the time. Only a few families, whose children were destined to follow their fathers into the court bureaucracy or other positions of responsibility, will have received a formal education, including learning to read and write. It looks very much as though Isaiah should be included among them.”

Fascinating!

So, while we do not know for sure, whether or not Isaiah was a royal tutor and/or had royal blood in him, the notion of it is not so far-fetched to be impossible.

Another aspect of her book, that piqued my interest was the names. Many times in the Bible, and I believe, if I’m not mistaken, people took the meaning of their names very seriously. I’ve always wondered why, for instance, with Hosea, God tells him to name his children names that I don’t find very pleasant – ex. Lo-ammi (not my people).

Now, in terms of why God said that, we don’t really know, but one of the characters in the book is named, Ishma, which means something like desolation (y’all will have to excuse this paraphrased explanation, we’re currently in the process of moving, and a lot of my books have been packed, so I’m going from memory here xD).

When Isaiah’s wife wonders why she was named that, Yaira, Ishma’s friend, defends her. She explains that right before Ishma was born, Yaira had just been through a very difficult time, and soon after she came to live with Ishma’s family, the little girl was born. Her parents gave her the name, “Ishma” to remind her that even in times of difficulty, there can still be good things ahead.

Anyway, I just thought that was really interesting!

If you haven’t read Isaiah’s Daughter by Mesu Andrews, I strongly encourage you to check it out! It’s a wonderful book that details the lives of some pretty cool people in the Bible.

~ Southern Dreamer

Book Review: Right Where I Belong by Krista McGee

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With Christmas only yesterday, I am certain each of us have received several wonderful gifts. My brother chose a book for me – Right Where I Belong by Krista McGee. I started it this morning and already finished it! What can I say? I love to read and am a total bookworm. 😉

***Warning: Spoilers Ahead***

The main character, Natalia Lopez, lives in Spain. Her father is not the most moral person and is definitely what one would consider a “player.” With his third marriage to American citizen Maureen, Natalia’s life begins to change. Maureen is a Christian and brings the light of Christ into the seventeen-year-old’s life. She eagerly learns about Jesus and has a thirst for him and excitement on learning his Word that is made clear throughout the book.

Sadly, the sinful habits of Natalia’s father continue and he divorces Maureen. Natalia is torn. Is love even possible? Her father has married three times – soon to be four! And he has yet to stay committed? Naturally, this ignites almost a fear of ever falling in love within her heart. Paired with the determination to never be like that, Natalia tells the Lord that she will remain single, and for the majority of the story, believes this is what God wants her to do.

When God nudges her to go with Maureen back to the United States, Natalia obeys. The two women find themselves in Tampa, Florida and a whole slew of situations occur, not the least, is Natalia’s introduction to Brian Younger.

Son of a pastor, Brian Younger loves the Lord yet has always felt that Spencer Adams is better than him being popular, smart, and good-looking. When Natalia comes along, Brian is instantly smitten. He finds her passion for learning about Jesus refreshing and soon desires to be more than friends with the Spanish girl.

Natalia, however, is afraid. She tries to distance herself from Brian. After all, she keeps reminding herself, she does not want to date, marry, or…fall in love. God seems to have other plans despite her attempts and she is unable to completely separate herself from the kind young man.

Throughout reading the story, I found myself chuckling at relatable awkward and embarrassing moments while gaining a greater understanding of the differences between American and Spanish culture. This book is a wonderful read – especially if you’re a romantic like I am – and I hope you take the chance to dive into its pages!

~ Southern Dreamer

Building Your Pearls

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Currently, I am reading through a book by Jackie Kendall and Debby Jones entitled Lady In Waiting: Becoming God’s Best While Waiting For Mr. Right. I haven’t dived in too deep yet – I’m only on chapter five after all, but from the pages I have delved into, I can assure you it is a great read.

Besides the fact that I have enjoyed reading it, I have found myself challenged spiritually with the questions and thought provoking statements. I won’t lie – some of them are hard, but its the good kind of difficult that makes you consider where you are in your faith realistically, not fictionally.

The main theme within the chapters so far has been building your character to become more Christ-like. This is where the analogy of the pearls comes into play.

Jackie and Debby write, “One of life’s most costly and beautiful objects is born out of pain and irritation – the pearl. A tiny piece of sand slips into an oyster’s shell and begins to rub against the soft tissue, causing irritation. In response to the irritation, the oyster produces a hard substance. This substance eventually develops into one of the world’s most beautiful jewels – a lovely luminous pearl. In fact, the greater the irritation, the more valuable the pearl!”

These ‘irritations’ in our own life can be in the form of trials, struggles, or as they say – singleness. We all have many pearls: some good, others bad. Yet, the fake white orbs will eventually fade into tarnished, chipped paint. No longer beautiful. But the real ones – the true ones forged in the fires of affliction and molded by the hovering hand of God will be the pearls that last.

In the book, they challenged the reader to work on producing pearls of character such as those from Galatians 5:22-23: peace, love, patience, self-control, etc…And so I am challenging you, my readers, as well as myself, to work on forming our own character pearls shiny and bright. Let the irritation of life be a form to lead us into the classroom of pearl building.

One last thought, at the end of chapter four, they ask two questions: “What books have you read dealing with the virtues/disciplines of a godly woman? In contrast, how many magazines have you read that deal with external glamour?”

When I really thought about it, I was surprised to realize that there are very few books, if any, that I have read which have made it their singular goal to teach and guide others on how to form godly character. On the other hand, I could easily recount a number of magazines I have flipped through dealing with outward beauty. This definitely made me realize that so often we forget to work on improving our character over improving our looks. Not to say that there is anything wrong with make-up or hair styles – Lord knows I love all of that, but I think when that becomes EVERYTHING and you are neglecting your spiritual walk and character then it becomes a problem.

~ Southern Dreamer

Note: All credit goes to Jackie Kendall and Debby Jones for the pearl analogy and the quotes.

My Favorite Romance Books

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In a way, this is a continuation of my post titled ‘Romantically Inclined’. I thought, after all, it might do well to give y’all a list of some good, clean romance books I have been fortunate enough to enjoy. Hopefully, some of these will spark your interest and take you on a marvelous journey within its pages!

  1. The Christy Miller series by Robin Jones Gunn.

This has to be one of my top favorite series’ that I’ve ever read. It follows the tale of a young teen, christyChristy Miller, through high school, college, and eventually marriage! Several topics that young people struggle with are addressed in a non-depressing way and by a Christian worldview. There is romance in this series (it wouldn’t be on my list if it lacked it) but it is clean while still satisfying your romantic taste. You can find these books at Lifeway or through CBD.

 

2. The Life of Faith series by Martha Finley

I have been reading these books since the time I was in middle school and continue to love them.

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This is an older series, written decades ago, but is nevertheless a wonderful read. One of my favorite things about this series is one of the heroine’s – Elsie Dinsmore. Her Christian character and virtue challenged me to step up my own. It is set during the 1800’s and there are several series within the overall series (the Elsie Dinsmore one being an example). It does contain romance in its most old-fashioned, elegant form. You can find these books at Lifeway or through CBD.

 

 

3. The Love Comes Softly series by Janette Oke.

This series is set in a historical time period during the mid 1800s and follows the tale of a younglove come softly woman named Marty who has just lost her husband in a tragic accident. Through a marriage of convenience, she slowly falls in love with Clark Davis and he with her. The ups and downs during their own lives and those of their children make an enjoyable read and give the reader a greater understanding of how people lived their lives centuries ago. You can find these books at Lifeway or through CBD.

 

 

 

I hope one of the three series’ I listed has intrigued your interest enough to look into reading! All of these books contain clean romance and are written from a Christian perspective. So tell me readers, do you have a favorite romance book or series that is without the common vulgar images and language common in today’s literature? Tell me in the comments!

Until next time,

~ Southern Dreamer