Cover Image: Up from Dust

Up from Dust

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I have come to really love the biblical characters Martha and Mary, so I was intrigued to see what this novel would make of Martha’s story. I suppose we all have some sort of picture in our minds of how a biblical character’s back story may have played out; I wasn’t prepared for the one Kaufman had imagined for Martha at all, but it didn’t take long for me to be totally invested and wanting to find out more. She remains faithful to the verses in scripture, but unpacks what she thinks could have happened. The whole thing is believable, and it appears the author has certainly done her homework as she includes details from the culture and time to show us the challenges of life as a woman in Jewish society in the first century. The book covers many themes such as girls coming of age, female friendship, sibling bonds, forbidden love and second chances. I loved seeing into Martha’s mind (as imagined by the author) and how she dealt with pain and loss, which occurs right from the start (her mother dies in the opening pages). She takes on so much responsibility for raising her siblings as a result, and the interactions with them reveal her frustrations and joys as she journeys through heartache and healing – more than once. But the most beautiful writing for me was found in the simple interactions the siblings had with Jesus, which echo the Bible so closely but also really brought to life to me the impact he had on those around him; how he often turned their lives upside down while at the same time allowing them to truly come alive in the light of his love and care. If you like biblical fiction, this is definitely one to try.

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I love Biblical Fiction and even though this is one of Heather Kaufman's first books, it ranks right up there with Tessa Afshar and Connilyn Cossette for me! I sure hope to read more of her writing in the future.

I read/listened to this and thought it was just wonderful. I really enjoyed reading about Martha and what it could have been like for her.

I received a copy of this book for review. All opinions are my own.

Publication date: 23 January 2024

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An engaging story of biblical times as seen through the eyes of Martha.

I really loved the storytelling, knowing that it is fiction I loved a perspective of seeing how Martha grew up. Seeing her family, the heartache she went through and her first love.

I enjoyed how the author weaved in the stories of Jesus into each of the characters' lives. Seeing through their eyes how they might have felt when Jesus showed them miracles, hope and love.

*thank you to NetGalley and Bethany House for a copy of this book to read and review, all thoughts are my own.

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I have been reading a bunch of biblical fiction. I prefer it remain true to Scripture, but I also like to be stretched and to learn from it. In this novel, we gain a different view of Martha of Bethany. The background and details come from the author’s imagination as she presents authentic characters in believable situations (in addition to the scenes coming directly from the Bible). However, I was surprised by how she had Mary act since I always thought of her as spiritual and devoted to Jesus. The author presents an alternative personality for Martha’s younger sister, based on the Bible, of course. So I accept the possibility of her wilder youth and transformation by the Lord. Nevertheless, the story offers an engaging read that will draw you in and capture your mental capacities as you journey back to the first century. The plot contains the elements readers love—adventure, love, conflict, and much more, with surprises along the way. I received a copy from the publisher through NetGalley. All opinions are your own.

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Biblical fiction can be hit or miss for me, especially when the author is writing on a specific and known character straight from the Bible. For my preference, I mainly prefer stories with fictional characters that live during Biblical times or interact with a Biblical person. This story is not like that. This is a fictional account of Martha, the sister of Lazarus and Mary, the siblings who were friends of Jesus.

This story is divided into two parts. The first part is the fictional story of the siblings, some things that might have happened to have developed them into the people that they become. Even though fictional, this part was an engrossing read and moved rather quickly. The second part sends us more into the time of the Biblical part.

The author's notes explain why she made certain decisions with the storylines she followed. When we get to the Biblical parts, their interactions with Jesus, the sisters' side of when Lazarus died and Jesus did not come, their brother coming back to life, Mary's offering, and finally the death and resurrection of the Messiah was told very well. We are right there with Martha a living breathing woman as her faith is tested and questioned and she sees the Almighty at work. Knowing the Biblical account and reading this story gave me much to think about and to be greatly thankful for.

I was provided a copy of this novel from the publisher. I was not required to post a positive review and all views and opinions are my own.

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I thought this was a good Biblical fiction that gave us a glimpse into what life at the time of Christ might have been like and what people felt before and after knowing him. I thought the author did a good job of helping us relate to Martha and helping us feel her emotions. I felt her sadness at all the lose in her life but then felt her joy when she heard of Christ’s resurrection. I thought the author did a wonderful job on this story and would recommend it.

I received a complimentary book from publishers, publicists, and or authors.  A review was not required and all opinions and ideas expressed are my own.

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Heartfelt and thought provoking, Ms. Kaufman tells Martha's tale with a fresh perspective that both tugs at the heart and gives hope.

A riveting novel, I loved how it follows Martha through her formulative years into her adulthood, and her relationships with her siblings and family. My heart went out to Martha in her hurt and pain, seeing how it shaped her, drawing her to Jesus.

Well written, with strong themes of faith, healing, and forgiveness. A compelling tale, with a captivating and familiar protagonist. An excellent read all the way around, highly recommend!

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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Up from Dust: Martha’s Story is a wonderful Biblical fiction novel that examines Martha of the siblings Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. I have often thought of these three. Of whether I’m more like Mary or Martha. And which is truly the better sister? Is one better than the other?

But do we truly know Martha’s story?

This book, while it might not be 100% true, is a wonderful retelling of a portion of Martha’s life. We see her as more than just a character in the Bible. We see her as a woman. A woman who thinks she’s found love only to not. A woman who raises her younger siblings after loss.

I really loved the author’s take on Martha’s life. She was a woman who served. She was a woman who put other people ahead of herself. But what would have happened if she didn’t? We often scoff at her a bit because she didn’t sit at Jesus’ feet and she got upset with her sister for doing that. Was she wrong?

This book gives us some insight into her and her life and what might have truly been her reality. It made me think. And it made me dig into my Bible for all references of her. I hope it does the same for you.

I have voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from Celebrate Lit. All views expressed are only my honest opinion. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC regulations.

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Up from Dust: Martha’s Story by author Heather Kaufman is a tender account of what might have been the lives of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, three siblings. My attention was immediately captured after starting this beautiful book. I appreciated that the author stayed as true to scripture as possible in this novel.

Set in Bethany, Israel, this is the story of Martha, including her sister Mary and brother Lazarus. The author provides details on not only the time and place, but also on what facts are known about their lives. My heart went out to the three children from the beginning.

The author has a beautiful style of writing. It is easy to read and inviting with a depth that touched me. I was taken back to ancient times and became friends with a family that I knew from scripture. Her perspective was plausible and made the people come alive on the pages. I love the dedication and reverence followers from that era had for Jesus, and the author captured it perfectly.

Filled with lessons on family, sorrow, redemption, and love, this story is thought provoking and has stayed with me long after I finished it. I highly recommend it to all lovers of Biblical Fiction. It receives a 5 star rating from me. A copy was provided by Net Galley, but these are my honest words.

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Emotional, heart wrenching and Biblically based makes this fiction book outstanding. I loved this story and cried through the whole thing. The author does an amazing job of giving us vivid descriptions of each scene. This sent shivers down my spine,” Death is imminent. It’s as close as our skin.” Can you imagine being that close to the tomb knowing that death was there?

While the story is very engaging and I loved following Mary I will say I felt like I knew her better than I ever have before. The author captures emotions so well that each trial, heartache or achievement witnessed or experienced was vivid. We see how it was hard for women at times during this time period and how Mary was someone who never gave up. Did she know what her future was going to be? I can’t imagine the pain and anguish as the ending is overwhelming to me. I applaud the author for a story that reminds us that a sacrifice was made for each one of us.

I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. The review is my own opinion.

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This book is beautifully and well written. I encourage you to come to Bethany and spend some time with Martha, Mary and Lazarus. I am so glad that I did! This was the perfect book to read right before Easter.

I think my favorite thing about this book is the way that relationships were portrayed and developed. The relationships between siblings, spouses, friends, employees and fellow villagers were done so very well. I was drawn right in to their lives, as I stepped back in time.

Babies were born and loved ones died. Voices were raised in lament and tears of joy were cried. There were valuable lessons about bitterness and surrender. Relationships were strained and relationships were restored. And, there were miracles…unbelievable miracles.

I have always been drawn to Martha’s story, and now, I have an even greater appreciation for her. Well done!

I received complimentary copies of this wonderful book from Bethany House Publishing and NetGalley. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

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Biblical fiction isn’t a genre I normally read for various reasons. One being, that for me personally, as a reader who often gets very engrossed in a story, I fear I will later read scripture and be unable to separate fiction from truth. That being said I’m so glad I took a chance on Up From Dust by Heather Kaufman.

Up From Dust is about Martha and I enjoyed her imagined backstory. I especially felt her characterization stayed true to who she was in scripture. The truths in this story were so timely for me and spoke to/exposed/found the cracks in my own heart and have given me a lot to think about. I found myself pondering much about the Martha/Mary/Lazarus story. Can you even imagine what it must have been like to be close friends with Christ and His disciples? To have sat at His feet when He taught? To have your home be haven of rest for them? I was moved with the crucifixion feeling their sorrow and then their rejoicing at the resurrection. Ending with the resurrection made it the perfect book to read just before Easter. I thoroughly enjoyed this story and particularly appreciated the author’s note at the end where she explains the choices she made in the writing of Up From Dust. I look forward to more from this author.

Much thanks to NetGalley and the publisher Bethany House for my copy to review. No positive review was required. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Up From Dust by Heather Kaufman
Mary, Martha and Lazarus are some of the most famous siblings mentioned in the Bible. Heather Kaufman writes this story from Martha’s point of view, as pieced together from scriptural accounts. She makes some assumptions to fill in the details of Martha’s life, but the resulting story rings true. The reader comes away with a renewed appreciation for the relationship the siblings had with each other and with Jesus. As with good Biblical fiction, this story made me want to pay greater attention to the details mentioned in scripture and it made the familiar story come to life.
Heather writes beautifully. The story’s rich details transport the reader to life in Bethany. And best of all, the story ended with Martha’s heart being healed and her relationship restored with Mary. I look forward to reading more of Heather’s work to transport me into the first century AD again. I am grateful to the publisher for this complimentary arc in return for this, my honest review.

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Heather Kaufman's "Up from Dust: Martha's Story" takes readers on a compelling journey through the pages of history, weaving a narrative of resilience, hope, and the indomitable spirit of a woman determined to rise above the challenges life throws at her. Released on January 23, 2024, this novel is a poignant addition to the Women of the Way series, showcasing Kaufman's skill in bringing historical fiction to life.

Set against the backdrop of a tumultuous period, "Up from Dust" introduces readers to Martha, a character whose life becomes a testament to the strength of the human spirit. Kaufman masterfully paints a vivid picture of the hardships faced by Martha and her community, grounding the narrative in the dust bowl era where survival was a daily struggle.

The novel unfolds with Martha confronting the harsh realities of the Dust Bowl, a time when economic hardship, environmental challenges, and personal tragedies converged to test the resilience of individuals and communities. Kaufman's prose captures the essence of Martha's character, making her journey relatable and inspiring as she navigates loss, adversity, and the pursuit of a better life.

One of the strengths of Kaufman's storytelling lies in her ability to breathe life into historical settings. The descriptive prose transports readers to Martha's world, allowing them to feel the gritty dust in the air, experience the weight of Martha's struggles, and celebrate her triumphs. The author's meticulous research is evident in the authenticity of the historical backdrop, enriching the narrative with a sense of time and place.

Martha's character is beautifully nuanced, evolving throughout the story, which adds a layer of authenticity to the novel. Her determination to overcome challenges, coupled with the support of her community and the bonds she forms, creates a compelling narrative arc that resonates with readers on a profound level.

"Up from Dust: Martha's Story" is more than a historical novel; it is a celebration of the resilience inherent in the human spirit. Kaufman's ability to balance the hardships of Martha's journey with moments of hope and triumph creates a narrative that is both emotionally impactful and inspiring. The novel serves as a tribute to the strength of women during challenging times and a reminder that, even in the darkest moments, the human spirit can rise above adversity.

In conclusion, Heather Kaufman's "Up from Dust: Martha's Story" is a beautifully crafted novel that seamlessly blends historical accuracy with a captivating narrative. Through Martha's experiences, readers are taken on a poignant journey of self-discovery, survival, and the enduring power of hope. This novel is a testament to Kaufman's storytelling prowess and a must-read for those who appreciate historical fiction that resonates with heart and authenticity.

Thanks to Netgalley and Bethany House Publishers for an advance copy for my honest review

Novel Nerd Blog: https://smithareading.blogspot.com/

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Heather Kaufman is a new to me author, Up From Dust is the first book in the Women of the Way series.

I enjoy reading Christian fiction and am relatively new to biblical fiction, Up From Dust tells the story of Martha, along with her siblings, Mary and Lazarus. It's an interesting tale that focuses on Mary’s experiences of love and loss as well as her relationship with family and friends. It's an authentic glimpse into the times while remaining faithful to Scripture.

It was a well-written story that offers a possible scenario for the siblings and their dynamics, while focuses mainly on Mary. One of my biggest takeaways is that each of us has a story. We don't know Martha's story before Jesus entered her life. We don't know her past and what shaped her, just like we don't know the stories of those around us. Everyone has a unique story.

I'm looking forward to where this series will go next, along with checking out the author's backlist.

My thanks to Bethany House for a digital arc in exchange for a honest review.

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Up from Dust: Martha's Story is the first book I have read by the talented author, Heather Kaufman. It, also, kicks off the Women of the Way series. I really enjoyed Martha's story. The author use of vivid details made me as though I was standing right there along Martha and witnessing what she was experiencing. I thought it was a beautiful story of faith and hope. It will be among one of my favorite Biblical fiction books I have read to date.

Up from Dust: Martha's Story deserves five stars. I have no doubt historical fiction lovers, particularly of Biblical Fiction, will love it as much as me. I can not wait to see what is the second installment from the Women of the Way series.

I received a paperback copy of Heather Kaufman's Up from Dust: Martha's Story from the publisher, but was not required to write a positive review. This review is one hundred percent my own honest opinion.

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"There was no grave He could not plunder, no darkness He could not pierce, and there was no one so lost that He could not find her and lift her up."

Wow, just wow!!

This is my first read by this author, and it was epic!!

Up From Dust is a bittersweet and moving tale of love, loss, and new-found hope.

I love how the author told this story of Martha, Mary and Lazarus with understanding, compassion and gentle yet powerful truths.

This is a perfect read for fans of writers like Mesu Andrews and Jill Eileen Smith!

This book is one I definitely will want to
re-read, and I enjoyed it so much, I plan to pick up a paperback of it later.

Thank you to the publisher for the complimentary e-book I received to review through Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review and the thoughts above are my own.

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Up from Dust by Heather Kaufman was an interesting read. I love Biblical fiction as it seems to breathe life into the Bible to make it fresh for me. I was intrigued by the subject of the back story to Martha, Mary and Lazarus. After reading the book, I am conflicted about my feelings on this book. There were parts that I enjoyed, but some parts I felt were stretching the ideas a bit too much for my taste. The back story of the siblings was interesting and the love interest for Martha was captivating. I also thought how Martha and her love interest met in secret was a bit of a stretch for that time in history. The other thing I found disappointing was the lack of friendship with Jesus in the book. While Kaufman stayed true to the Biblical account of things, I was disappointed that the close friendship that Jesus had with these siblings was not developed in the story as I had hoped. It is a good read, I just had expectations that were left unfulfilled. I did like how Kaufman had end notes to direct people back to the Bible and explaining a bit of her thought process to why she took the direction in the story that she wrote.

My thanks to Bethany House Publishers and Netgalley for the free ebook in exchange for my review of the book.

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The author exceeded my expectations. The book was beautifully written. It felt like I was in there with the characters. In fact I read the book in a day. The story made me appreciate the Bible story of Martha and her family. I saw family devotion, love, faith illustrated in amazing and mundane ways. My heart went out to the siblings. The story showed the inner workings of their hearts and situations and how they individually responded to Jesus. I saw God's patience with His children. We all don't come to Him the same way but He accepts us and refines us into the people He wants us to be. This is the first of this author I am reading but it will definitely not be the last.

I received a copy of this book and this is my honest opinion.

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This was a fictionalized retelling of the story of the Biblical Martha and her siblings Mary and Lazarus. If you are familiar with the Bible story you will enjoy the imaginative family history the author created to fill in details about what happened, and if you are not familiar with the story you will enjoy reading about a strong female character whose faith grew despite many hardships and disappointments.

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