Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Hidden Flame - Book Review & Giveaway

About The Book:

In first-century Judea, the followers of the Way have burgeoned into a vibrant, growing community that cannot be ignored. Jerusalem is in turmoil as its religious leaders on one side, and their Roman rulers on the other, conspire to stamp out the fledgling Church. And Abigail, who thought she had finally found home and safety, is caught between the opposing forces.

Two suitors desire the lovely Abigail's hand in marriage. Ezra, a successful Hebrew merchant and widower with important connections among the Sanhedrin, is looking for a mother for his children. The Roman soldier Linux is fascinated by her winsome charm and possibly could offer the sanctuary--maybe even the love--for which she yearns. But her heart has been captured by neither of these. Will her faith and courage survive a heartbreak beyond comprehension as the followers face a gathering storm of persecution they never could have foreseen?

A glimmer of hope beckons Abigail forward.  

You can read an excerpt of The Hidden Flame here.

About The Authors:

Davis Bunn is an award-winning novelist whose audience spans reading genres from high drama and action thrillers to heartwarming relationship stories, in both contemporary and historical settings. He and his wife, Isabella, make their home in Florida for some of each year, and spend the rest near Oxford, England, where they each teach and write. Visit Davis' Web site at www.davisbunn.com
Janette Oke (pronounced "oak") pioneered inspirational fiction and is the leading author in the category today. Love Comes Softly, her first novel, has sold over one million copies. Janette is now the bestselling author of over 70 books, 32 of which have been translated into fourteen languages. Her books have sold over 22 million copies. 

Janette receives fan mail from all over the world and answers each letter personally. She received the 1992 President's Award from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association for her significant contribution to Christian fiction, the 1999 CBA Life Impact Award and has been awarded the Gold Medallion Award for fiction. Janette and her husband, Edward, have four grown children and enjoy their many grandchildren. They make their home in Canada.

Q & A with The Authors:

1. Janette, 2009 marks 30 years since the publication of your signature novel, Love Comes
Softly.Having written over 75 books with total sales nearing 30 million copies, you are
a household name among Christian fiction readers.What drew you to collaborate
with Davis Bunn?

Oke: I had known Davis Bunn for some years before our first collaboration, our paths
having crossed at industry events and at Bethany House. I had read and admired his work,
deeply respecting his writing gifts and creative talents. I came to recognize that, though he
and I were worlds apart—in heritage, education, experience, and writing styles, we (besides
our faith) share other significant values: we both love to write, and we are motivated by the
possibilities for opening minds and hearts through creating characters and developing their
stories.We found even more common ground in our initial brainstorming sessions; it was
amazing to both of us how easily our ideas fed off one another.We saw the characters and
plot grow by the hour as we hurried to jot notes in an effort to keep up with our thoughts.
As our sample scenes and chapters went back and forth between us, we realized we indeed
shared the same vision for the story and the same understanding of the characters we had
created.

2. The Hidden Flame is the second novel you have collaborated on following a seven-year
break.What is it about the ACTS OF FAITH series that brought you together again?

Oke: In my Bible reading over the years, I often pondered what biblical characters might
have been thinking and feeling, beyond what their stories contain on the written page. But
I was hesitant about writing a biblical novel because I felt neither comfortable nor qualified
to mix “fact” and “fiction” in approaching these heroes and heroines of the faith. But I
knew Davis had strong research and writing skills and that I could rely on him for
historical authenticity and engaging plot ideas to make this work well.

Bunn:When we started working on The Centurion’s Wife, Janette and I were both quite
taken by the scope and depth of the biblical story unfolding in the book of Acts. Adding a
further two novels to continue the series seemed not only fitting, but compelling. I recently
came across this observation from Dr. J. I. Packer, the distinguished professor: “Adventure,
drama, violence, injustice, miracles, human interest: Acts has all the ingredients of a fastmoving
novel, except that this is fact, not fiction.” So we do have an amazing platform
upon which to build our own tales.

Collaboration with Janette remains a genuine honor. Her knowledge of—and love for—the
Word of God has encouraged my own study and application of Scripture. As a writer, she
displays extraordinary empathy with the characters, along with sensitivity about how and
why relationships change. This power moves from the page into the hearts of the readers. I
am continually impressed—and humbled—by Janette’s connection with her audience!

3.Your research for the setting of the ACTS OF FAITH trilogy began well before book one,
The Centurion’s Wife,was a manuscript. Certainly much of that information applies
in this book also, but were there specific issues and scenes in this second novel that
required further investigation?
Bunn: I was fortunate to be able to undertake extensive on-site research for this series. Not only did I travel through the Holy Land, but my guide was a Jewish scholar who converted to Christianity. His profound knowledge of the area coupled with his comparative theological insights proved invaluable. Of course, research trips are always important for gathering information, setting scenes, and sketching plot details. But in Jerusalem, I was keenly aware of our spiritual responsibility to our readers. Through fiction, Janette and I would be interpreting one of the most formative periods of Christianity. The coming of the Spirit changed everything. Could I, through this project, deepen my own sense of the presence of God? Could I convey this lesson in a way that would both challenge and uplift our audience?

Our on-going research spanned quite a few sources: everything from accounts of historical events, to nuances of Jewish religious doctrine, to everyday life in New Testament times.We also delved into various translations of the book of Acts, along with commentaries, to be sure we understood the biblical message. Additionally, we had to take great care in crafting fictional episodes around well-known biblical figures and circumstances.


4.Abigail was briefly introduced to readers in The Centurion’s Wife. In The Hidden Flame she takes center stage. Did the two of you know where this story would take her when you began the plotting and writing?


Oke:We knew she was to become a main character in book two, but until we began the plotting we didn’t know how the story would unfold.


Bunn: Abigail played just a minor role in the first book, but we soon grew to care for her so much we wanted to tell her story. Like many authors, we have to pay attention to where the characters lead us.We had an early impression that themes of beauty and disfigurement, of injury and healing, of yearning and patience, of passion and duty, would be featured.What difference does a newly-kindled faith in the crucified Jesus make in a young woman’s life? And did I mention romance? Janette and I knew that Abigail was perfectly poised to attract a love-interest. Or two or three. And perhaps with The Hidden Flame, readers will similarly speculate about which characters will move to center stage in book three.


5.As you developed the characters and the plot for this novel,what insight into the biblical story has been the most compelling to you personally?


Oke: The “realness” of the characters in the biblical stories that we have read and reread. One is called to ask oneself, “What would I have done in similar situations?” They had reason to doubt, reason to fear, reason to be tempted to “hide the Light.” It took courage to take a stand as a follower of The Way. It took faith to believe that they could make a difference in the world in which they lived by living and sharing the Message of the Cross. It took even more than that. It took the Holy Spirit's indwelling, to give them the strength and power to face Rome’s power and an angry Jewish religious leadership that saw them as a threat to everything they held tightly. As I read their story again and again in the future I will now share the emotions they must have felt as they tried to protect beloved family members yet be true to the commission they had been given by their Lord.


Bunn: Three thoughts come to mind. The first is “signs and wonders.”What a privilege it is to write about miracles in a way that captures a sense of awe and affirms a belief in the unseen. The second is “community.” I was moved by how the early “Followers of the Way” used their spiritual gifts, shared their belongings, encouraged one another—even in times of uncertainty and anxiety. The final thought is “courage.” So many of the characters have their personal ties, spiritual beliefs—and even physical safety—tested to the limit. Some transcend their fears; others are crushed by them. Beyond the drafting of the book, I reflect on how these early lessons shape today’s church and its mission. In truth, I am also reminded to examine my own strengths and weaknesses as a Christian.


My Review:

I have long been a fan of both of these authors and have read a number of their previous collaborations and was very excited when the opportunity came up to review this newest release from this dynamic duo! I was not disappointed.

This book was a very easy and quick read, and I love that the authors stuck true to historical authenticity. I thought that the way the book was written bought Bible Characters such as Peter, Martha, Stephen and many more to life in a way I would have never expected.

This book was a wonderful way for the reader to have a glimpse of what those from the Early Church would have experienced. From beautifully described wedding celebrations to persecution of faith, this book covers a wide range of plots and emotions, but in a very easy to understand way. This is particularly beneficial to readers with little to no understanding of the history of the Early Church.

Though I have not read the first book in the Acts of the Faith series, The Centurion, I am very willing to, because of my experience of reading The Hidden Flame.

If you have loved previous writings of Davis Bunn and Janette Oke, you will love this book! I highly recommend it and give it a huge thumbs up!

BUY IT: Head over to Bethany House to purchase The Hidden Flame by Davis Bunn & Janette Oke. This book is also available through your local Christian bookseller in January 2010


WIN IT: 1 reader will win a copy of The Hidden Flame


TO WIN: Head over to Bethany House and tell me one other book that you would love to read


EXTRA ENTRIES:


1. Follow this blog


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GIVEAWAY OPEN TO U.S. AND CANADIAN RESIDENTS ONLY


GIVEAWAY ENDS FEBRUARY 19, 2010


GOOD LUCK TO ALL!

***Thank you to Bethany House and Graf-Martin for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book for the purpose of review***

24 comments:

  1. please count me in....thanks.

    'a silent governess' is also comes from bethany house

    karenk
    kmkuka(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  2. i'm a subscriber :)

    karenk
    kmkuka(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  3. Another book I'd love to read is Hidden Places by Lynn Austin. I've read and loved some of her other books. Also, I met her once at a writer's group and really enjoyed listening to her speak!
    wandanamgreb(at)gmail(dot)com

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  4. I am a follower of your blog.
    wandanamgreb(at)gmail(dot)com

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  5. I subscribe via email.
    wandanamgreb(at)gmail(dot)com

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  6. I would love to read
    Living the Lord's Prayer.
    Thankd for the giveaway.

    dorcontest at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  7. I subscribe by email.

    dorcontest at gmail dot com

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  8. I follow on google friend...dor

    dorcontest at gmail dot com

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  9. As homeschoolers we would like the book Science and the Bible!
    Thanks!

    hpitts88(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  10. I am following your blog

    hpitts88(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  11. I would love to read "90 Minutes in Heaven."

    Thank you,

    Christine
    womackcm@sbcglobal.net

    ReplyDelete
  12. I follow this blog.

    Thank you,

    Christine
    womackcm@sbcglobal.net

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  13. I subscribe via email.

    Thank you,

    Christine
    womackcm@sbcglobal.net

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  14. I follow you on Twitter.

    Thank you,

    Christine
    womackcm@sbcglobal.net

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  15. I would like to read: "Never Say Never" by Lisa Wingate.

    nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

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  16. Email subscriber

    nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

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  17. I follow you on Twitter
    ID:@NancyeDavis

    nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

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  18. I would love to read Beguiled by Deeanne Gist and J. Mark Bertrand!

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  19. Following you on Twitter! (_heatheranne_)

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  20. Beguiled sounds really good as well.

    misusedinnocence@aol.com

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  21. I follow your blog. :)

    misusedinnocence@aol.com

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