What Blooms from Dust by James Markert


what blooms from dust

About the book:

Just as Jeremiah Goodbye is set to meet his fate in the electric chair, a tornado tears down the prison walls, and he is given a second chance at life. With the flip of a coin, he decides to return to his home town of Nowhere, Oklahoma, to settle the score with his twin brother Josiah. But upon his escape, he enters a world he doesn’t recognize—one that has been overtaken by the Dust Bowl. And the gift he once relied on to guide him is as unrecognizable as the path back to Nowhere.

After one jolt in Old Sparky, Jeremiah sees things more clearly and begins to question the mysterious circumstances surrounding the murders he was accused of. On his journey home, he accidentally rescues a young boy who follows him the rest of the way, and the pair arrive at their destination where they are greeted by fearful townspeople. When the Black Sunday storm hits the very next day, the residents of Nowhere finally begin to let the past few years of hardship bury them under the weight of all that dust.

Unlikely heroes, Jeremiah and his new companion, Peter Cotton, try to protect the townspeople from themselves, but Jeremiah must face his nightmares and free himself from the guilt of flipping the coin on those men who died.

Filled with mystery and magic, What Blooms from Dust is the story of finding hope in the midst of darkness and discovering the beauty of unexpected kindness.

My review:

Though I’ve wanted to for a while, I’ve never read James Markert before. I knew that he wrote historical fiction, which I thoroughly enjoy reading, so I thought I’d give one of his books a go. Wow! I was overwhelmingly impressed by this book and can’t wait to grab another of his.

What Blooms from Dust is so much more than just a historical fiction set in Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl. It’s a story of looking beyond the surface to the heart, of the freedom found only in truth, of the beauty of redemption. Markert’s writing reminds me a bit of Billy Coffey—that relaxed, Southern rhythm, mixed with a dose of the supernatural, and shaken with a twist of the unknown. In other words, beautiful!

One of the most impressive characters (in a loose sense) in the story for me was the dust itself—the power it wielded over the people and how it could so change someone was both mind-blowing and heart-breaking. Although this was definitely a fictional account of the Dust Bowl, it still granted me a deeper respect for those who persevered through that time in America’s history.

This is a powerful story that will leave you almost as breathless as the characters battling the Dust Bowl. I highly recommend you pick up your own copy of What Blooms from Dust and a box of Kleenex.

Many thanks to Thomas Nelson and the BookLook Blogger Review Program for the copy of this novel for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂


The Captured Bride by Michelle Griep

captured bride

About the book:

Mercy Lytton, a scout with keen eyesight raised among the Mohawks, and Elias Dubois, a condemned traitor working both sides of the conflict, must join together to get a shipment of gold safely into British hands.

A War-Torn Countryside Is No Place for a Lady
Mercy Lytton is a lady like none other. Raised amongst the Mohawks, she straddles two cultures, yet each are united in one cause. . .to defeat the French. Born with a rare gift of unusually keen eyesight, she is chosen as a scout to accompany a team of men on a dangerous mission. Yet it is not her life that is threatened. It is her heart.

Condemned as a traitor, Elias Dubois faces the gallows. At the last minute, he is offered his freedom if he consents to accompany a stolen shipment of French gold to a nearby fort—but he is the one they stole it from in the first place. It turns out that the real thief is the beguiling woman, Mercy Lytton, for she steals his every waking thought.

Can love survive divided loyalties in a backcountry wilderness?

My review:

Having been slightly disappointed by the first two books in the Daughters of the Mayflower series, I was leery about wasting time reading the third book. But I was pleasantly surprised by Michelle Griep’s addition to the series!

Griep’s writing is beautiful. Her descriptions swiftly transport the reader to upper New York in the 1750s in the midst of the French and Indian War. I was surprised at how quickly I fell into the story, and how I really did want to know what caused Mercy to be captured (as the title suggests). Griep did a wonderful job of building tension; of layering and slowly revealing backstories and motivations of her characters; of creating possibilities then tossing in challenges; of developing trust between her characters; and of maintaining a realistically harsh, yet still engaging atmosphere for Mercy and Elias to work through.

I did enjoy this story and plan to read more of Michelle Griep’s work. If the rest of the series is written like The Captured Bride, I will gladly read them all! I’d recommend you grab your own copy. (*Note: you do not have to read the series in order to be able to understand the individual stories!)

Many thanks to Barbour Publishing and NetGalley for the digital copy of this novel. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂

The Pirate Bride by Kathleen Y’Barbo


About the book:

A Former Privateer and a Desperate Heiress Join Forces to Find a Treasure

Jump on board with a brand new series for fans of all things related to history, romance, adventure, faith, and family trees.

One hundred years after her mother’s family came to the New World on the Mayflower, Maribel Cordova has landed in New Orleans to seek the man who holds the key to finding her father’s lost treasure. Attorney Jean-Luc Valmot has buried his past life so deep that no living person will ever find it—or so he hopes as he accepts a position on the governor’s staff. But the daughter of an infamous pirate threatens all he holds dear. Can Maribel and Jean-Luc compromise so they both can hold onto what they most desire?

My review:

This is the second book in the Daughters of the Mayflower Series: a series of books, written by different authors, all revolving around the descendants of a fictional couple who met on the Mayflower (which is the story recorded in the first book of the series, The Mayflower Bride). I did read the first novel in the series, but you certainly don’t have to read it to understand the story, since they take place about a hundred years apart.

I kind of enjoyed the first part of the story, where Mirabel is a young girl with a love for reading (especially reading about pirates), who is “captured” by privateers and charms them into allowing her to be a member of the crew.

After that, it kind of went downhill for me. I felt like the second part of the book was the Reader’s Digest Condensed Version: the writing seemed rushed and not as developed as it did in the first part. We skip ahead to Maribel as a young lady, teaching in the orphanage she was raised in. Then suddenly her family finds her and all these secrets begin to come to light one after the other. I got to the end and felt like I’d missed something.

And I really didn’t feel like the book blurb (as shown above) truly matched the story that I read, so I was a bit disappointed. It was a quick read and relatively diverting, but I did feel like there was something a bit off about it. Possibly because when they first meet and become somewhat enamored of each other, Maribel is only around eleven, while Jean-Luc is in his early twenties. That was awkward. Nothing untoward happens until they meet again about ten years later at a more appropriate age, but still.

If you need a quick and easy read, try it, but I won’t be putting it in my re-read pile. Which is a bummer, because I do love good historical fiction and pirates usually make any story better (they were the best part of this story!).

Thanks to Barbour Publishing and NetGalley for the digital copy of this book for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂

Fawkes by Nadine Brandes


About the book:

Thomas Fawkes is turning to stone, and the only cure to the Stone Plague is to join his father’s plot to assassinate the king of England.

Silent wars leave the most carnage. The wars that are never declared, but are carried out in dark alleys with masks and hidden knives. Wars where color power alters the natural rhythm of 17th century London. And when the king calls for peace, no one listens until he finally calls for death.

But what if death finds him first?

Keepers think the Igniters caused the plague. Igniters think the Keepers did it. But all Thomas knows is that the Stone Plague infecting his eye is spreading. And if he doesn’t do something soon, he’ll be a lifeless statue. So when his Keeper father, Guy Fawkes, invites him to join the Gunpowder Plot—claiming it will put an end to the plague—Thomas is in.

The plan: use 36 barrels of gunpowder to blow up the Igniter King.

The problem: Doing so will destroy the family of the girl Thomas loves. But backing out of the plot will send his father and the other plotters to the gallows. To save one, Thomas will lose the other.

No matter Thomas’s choice, one thing is clear: once the decision is made and the color masks have been put on, there’s no turning back.

My review:

I. Loved. This. Book. I think I could probably end my review with just those four words, but I’d love to tell you a little about why I so enjoyed this read.

Fawkes is a fascinating twist on historical fiction: the perfect blend of truth and fantasy, bringing new life to history. Brandes does a fabulous job of staying fairly true to the historical facts: she included most of the primary characters of the Gunpowder Plot and the basics of the motivations behind the plot with King James I and his persecution of certain members of English society. As I read, I was impressed with the level of research she must have put into this piece. But then she used her own special tweaks to freshen the tale, turning it from a struggle for religious liberty to a battle for magical freedom.

And I was entranced and so encouraged by Thomas’ theme: do not blindly believe what you are told, don’t simply trust your emotions, but always search for the truth. That is so important for everyone today, young and old, to learn.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough. However, you’ll have to wait a few more weeks before you dive in. Fawkes releases on July 10. Trust me, it will be worth the wait! Happy reading 🙂

Many, many thanks to Thomas Nelson and NetGalley for the digital copy of this book for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂


Bride Tree by J.P. Robinson

bride tree

About the book:

The year is 1789. France is reeling under the impact of a civil war between its social classes. When a secret agent from Rome joins forces with a vindictive politician bent on revenge, the stage is set for an explosive outcome that will shake the country to its core.

Meanwhile, Queen Marie-Antoinette engages the help of her lady-in-waiting, Viviane de Lussan, in a desperate battle to keep her throne… and her head. But how can she win a struggle she seems fated to lose?

 Amid the chaos of the revolution, Viviane’s heart is torn between a nobleman who sacrifices everything for her and a peasant who promises true freedom.

My review:

Bride Tree is a completely different take on the seeds and the growth of the French Revolution than I’ve ever read before. Robinson took some of the most influential people of the Revolution and gave them new life, new stories, new intrigues. The tale is rife with fascinating detail and brimming with a wealth of characters.

However, this was one of those reads that seemed to me to go on forever…and not in a good way. It was tough for me to get behind any of the many characters and cheer them on or really want to know how things turn out for them, because I couldn’t seem to drum up enough sympathy for any of them. Things do, though, come together in the end, so I was glad that I stuck it out.

Bride Tree was an interesting read, but I just can’t call it a great one. If you really like historical fiction, give it a go. If you’re a student of French history, though, you might actually want to skip this one, since he takes a lot of libertés with the truth (it is, after all, fiction). Or you may enjoy picking out all of the ways he changed history to fit his plot 🙂

I did receive a digital copy of this novel from the author for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂


Isaiah’s Daughter by Mesu Andrews

isaiahs daughter

About the book:

In this epic Biblical narrative, a young woman taken into the prophet Isaiah’s household rises to capture the heart of the future king.

Isaiah adopts Ishma, giving her a new name–Zibah, delight of the Lord–thereby ensuring her royal pedigree. Ishma came to the prophet’s home, devastated after watching her family destroyed and living as a captive. But as the years pass, Zibah’s lively spirit wins Prince Hezekiah’s favor, a boy determined to rebuild the kingdom his father has nearly destroyed. But loving this man will awake in her all the fears and pain of her past and she must turn to the only One who can give life, calm her fears, and deliver a nation.

My review:

This is an extraordinary reimagining of the backstory of a rather minor character in the annals of history (I think she’s only actually mentioned once in the Bible)–Queen Hephzibah, wife of godly King Hezekiah of Judah and mother of very ungodly King Manasseh of Judah. It’s a coming-of-age story, but it’s also so much more than that. It is a tale of love, hope, strength, determination, and faith.

I know that this is a work of fiction, but it is so beautifully told and weaves the words of prophets and kings directly from Scripture so seamlessly, that it seems amazingly real! Mesu Andrews brought the world of Isaiah to life for me as I’ve never imagined before, and I enjoyed every minute of reading this book.

Biblical fiction, such as Isaiah’s Daughter, can bring a new depth of cultural and historical understanding to your study of the Word, while entertaining you wonderfully. I’d highly recommend you snatch up a copy for both the enjoyment and education!

Many thanks to WaterBrook & Multnomah and NetGalley for the digital copy of this book for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂


A Light on the Hill by Connilyn Cossette

a light on the hill

About the book:

Though Israel has found relative peace, Moriyah has yet to find her own. Attempting to avoid the scorn of her community, she’s spent the last seven years hiding behind the veil she wears. Underneath her covering, her face is branded with the mark of the Canaanite gods, a shameful reminder of her past captivity in Jericho and an assurance that no man will ever want to marry her.

When her father finds a widower who needs a mother for his two sons, her hopes rise. But when their introduction goes horribly wrong, Moriyah is forced to flee for her life. Seeking safety at one of the newly established Levitical cities of refuge, she is wildly unprepared for the dangers she will face and the enemies–and unexpected allies–she will encounter on her way.

My review:

Connilyn Cossette certainly knows how to draw a picture with her words that is both attention-grippingly tense and heart-touchingly beautiful. Moriyah is a character whose captivity story was described in the last book of the Out of Egypt series, Wings of the Wind. I was so glad to see that Cossette decided to continue Moriyah’s story and color in this fascinating and tragic character some more. Strong on the outside, yet broken on the inside, Moriyah’s struggle to feel close to the God she loves is a silhouette of what many people face each day. Cossette does a remarkable job of penciling in the highlights and shadows of Moriyah’s heart and drawing her back to who God created her to be.

She also beautifully illustrates the Promised Land during the time of Joshua, painting dramatic and lovely images of the flourishing land and its multitude of characters: from vintners, to priests, to soldiers, to traders, she draws a rainbow of colorful people and scenery to support the story.

I’m entranced by Connilyn Cossette’s biblical fiction and look forward to reading the next in the Cities of Refuge series. I highly encourage you to snuggle up with a copy of this book. 🙂

Many thanks to Bethany House for the copy of this book for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂