After a heartbreaking end to her secret friendship with Lukio, Shoshana thought to never see the boy with the dual-colored eyes and the troubled soul again. But when she is captured in a Philistine raid and enslaved
in Ashdod, she is surprised to find that the brutal fighter known as Demon-Eyes is Lukio himself.
With explosive secrets and unbreakable vows standing between them, finding a way to freedom for both may cost them everything.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 74 members
BETWEEN THE WILD BRANCHES is the second novel in the Covenant House series by CONNILYN COSSETTE and it was definitely well worth waiting for! I love good biblical fiction and this author is without any doubt a master in the genre, with not only her research and knowledge of the Bible, but also her relationship with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. If you have not already read To Dwell Among Cedars I suggest you do so in order to get the background of this book, but it can also be read as a stand alone. We find Lukio in Ashdod ten years after leaving Kireat-Yearim and his adoptive family. He has become Devil Eyes, the Champion of Ashdod, with land and riches and Mataro the king's favour, leading to him becoming betrothed to Mariada, the king's daughter, and being made the Master of Games. This all becomes unimportant to him when he comes across Mariada's slave girl, Shoshanna, who he has loved since they were young, and hears her story and that of other Hebrew slaves. Two of my favourite quotes in the book are "One must use every weapon one has when innocent lives are at stake" and "Oshai constantly reminded those of us who met in the wine cellar that although we could not save everyone, every life was precious, formed in the image of Yahweh Himself". We see the difference between life in Ashdod, where the Philistines indulge in every kind of debauchery and horrific treatment of those they consider their enemies, as opposed to the simple God-fearing life of the Hebrews who adopted Lukio and his beloved sister Risi into their family in Kireat-Yearim. It is a story of sacrificial love, extravagant mercy, forgiveness and redemption, as we watch Lukio live out the prophetic word given to him by Samuel, the prophet and great man of God. I cannot recommend Between The Wild Branches highly enough. It is a wonderfully inspirational novel, full of biblical truth, and one I will read more than once. I was given a free copy of the book by NetGalley from Bethany House Publishers. The opinions in this review are completely my own.
Loved it!!!!!!! Part one in this duology left me eager for book two that is for sure! And this author came through big time! I loved Lukio's character arch, he had so much that he needed to grow from and realize and I loved how it wasn't instantly realized all at once, he had to grow gradually. And that made it feel so real. Shoshana was so good too! She survived so much and I loved how devoted she was to others! The suspense in this book was so well done, so much was at stake that I devoured this book in just over a day. It was so good. The majority of this story takes place in a Philistine city, so there are more mature, violent things happening then most of her stories. I felt like it wasn't overdone or too explicit, yet it gives a glimpse into how bad it may have been. I loved and cared for the side characters as well and I really hope we get to see them in later books. This author always creates vivid adventures with the backdrop of Biblical events. Love it! I loved it so much I ordered a physical copy as well. I recieved a complementary copy of this book from the publisher through Netgally. All opinions in this review are honest and completely my own.
I read Between the Wild Branches in three sittings which is quite rare for me these days with fiction. It is always nice to come across a Christian novel I enjoy and cannot wait to sit down and read! Connilyn Cossette continues to live up to her reputation as a wonderful storyteller. I loved the storyline and the characters were realistic. The dialogue sounded good to my listening eyes and my imagination was stirred with the sights and sounds. I must admit that I did not quite enjoy the first book in the series that much but this one definitely grabbed me. Be aware that there are some dark bits and hints of sensuality. I also have a pet peeve – why is it necessary to mention so many times that Lukio is big and beautiful? Other than that, really well written book and I am already looking forward to the author's next one!
Between the Wild Branches by Connilyn Cossette is a Biblical story that dives into another Moses type storyline. What I mean by that is that the plot features a character that moved up into the realm of the non-Hebrews, gains wealth, and then observes the mistreatment of the Hebrews and tries to save as many as he can. While the plot does feature a dynamic romantic storyline, it was not painful to observe. The characters were separated because of their place in society. The hero is a fighter who has massed tons of wealth from his ability to fight; whereas, the heroine is a slave in the king's household. The plot is interesting, but at times, it does drag to me. One of my favorite things of a Cossette novel is her research. She brings a tiny aspect of the Bible to life for me. I always feel like I am there, watching these things occur. I can't imagine having that ability. She is a wonderful storyteller who captures my attention. Overall, Between the Wild Branches by Connilyn Cossette captures the imagination and allows readers to learn more about the Bible world and brings it to life for the readers. I received a complimentary copy of Between the Wild Branches by Connilyn Cossette, but the opinions stated are all my own.
This book picks up where the last one in the series left off but the children are grown up now and caught in their own destinies. This book is so well written and inciteful and I can't recommend it enough. I love historicals that really give you a feeling for the time, place and culture. This fulfills all of that along with some good moral insight and family dynamics. This is one of my favorite books so far this year. I will always pick a new book by Connilyn Cossette to add to my reading list. I have voluntarily reviewed a copy of this book that I received from NetGalley. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.
Book Two in the Covenant House Series does not disappoint. My emotions ran wild, and I could not stop reading wanting to know more. I loved most of the characters and concur that Lukio’s cousin, Mataro, got his just reward! The story’s crescendo to the end clearly pointed to Christ and the need for forgiveness and a Savior. Although Lukio’s journey to freedom may have been long and painful, the story gives hope to all of us as we navigate our journeys. May we all learn like Lukio, “Fear only the fetters you place on yourself.” Each book is standalone, but I highly suggest reading Book One, To Dwell Among Cedars, in order to familiarize yourself with the characters. I received a copy from the publisher through Net Galley. The opinions are my own.
"Between the Wild Branches" is the second book in the Covenant House series by award-winning author Connilynn Cossette. Every book this author writes is a treasure and this book is no different. Cossette takes excellence in writing into an entirely new level in this book. The book picks up ten years after the end of "To Dwell Among the Cedars." The summary of the book states: Ten years ago fifteen year old Lukio fled Kiryat-Yearim, where he'd been adopted by the Levite family who guarded the Ark of the Covenant. Feeling betrayed by everyone, he returned to his birthplace in Philistia to become a famous fighter. Now the champion of Ashdod, Lukio has achieved every goal with the help of his ruthless cousin. But just as he is set to claim the biggest prize of all, the daughter of the king, his past collides with his present in the form of Shoshana. After a heartbreaking end to her secret friendship with Lukio, Shoshana thought to never see the boy with the dual-colored eyes and the troubled soul again. But when she is captured in a Philistine raid and enslaved in Ashdod, she is surprised to find that the brutal fighter known as Demon-Eyes is Lukio himself. With explosive secrets and unbreakable vows standing between them, finding a way to freedom for both may cost them everything. Cossette is amazing at encapsulating epochs of Biblical history and bringing them to life. The detail about the Philistine people is simply incredible. By making them more than a faceless enemy of Israel, she breathes life into the motivations and animosities of the two sides. It also shines the light on how the nation of Israel was seen by the nations surrounding her and her devotion (or lack of devotion) to God influenced them. Lukio's character development is superb. We see him finally battle the demons of his soul (my pun on his nickname of "Demon-Eyes). What he discovers in the process is something we all need. This is a novel to be read over and over again to mine its depths. I received a digital copy of the book to facilitate this review. The views and opinions expressed here are 100% honest and my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC's 16 CFR, part 255 Guidelines, concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in advertising.
I don't know how to describe how amazing this book is! Connilyn Cossette has woven another wonderful story of love, forgiveness, and redemption. Lukio and Shoshana's story looks impossible and horrific at times. Follow them as God moves mountains to bring them to Himself and together with each other. Connilyn Cossette's books all draw my heart closer to Yahweh. I feel Him pulling me in and showing me His awesome power and might. I was right there with Lukio (Natan) and his brothers as they fall to their knees in worship of the God Who Sees. If you haven't read one of her books, I suggest you read them all! I find myself reading the Bible passages again in a new light of understanding.
What an amazing story! I was so glad to see Lukio finally find God and I loved seeing the story from his and Shoshana's point of view. This was a beautiful way to end the duology.
Connilyn Cossette has hit another one out of the park! This is the 2nd book in the Covenant House series and while this one could be enjoyed as a stand-alone, if you're going to read both, I would recommend reading them in order as this one would include spoilers about the ending of "To Dwell Among Cedars". This duology focuses on 2 Philistine children who followed the Ark out of Philistine territory when their land was hit by a plague due to its capture. They were adopted into a Hebrew family. The first book focuses on the oldest of the 2 - Eliora. While Lukio is also a prominent character in book 1, this is HIS book, where we learn more of his story and motivations. This book begins 10 years after book 1 ends and we see that Lukio has achieved all of the dreams that he had for himself, but still finds something lacking. This story was a true tale of redemption! In addition to the major character character development plot, there are additional plot points of the war between the Philistines and the Hebrews, espionage and rescue of captured slaves and romance plot twists. There's also an allusion to a pre-cursor to the olympic games! (The author does note that there is no historical evidence of this, so this element was purely fiction, but it was a lot of fun!). I really enjoyed all of the elements of the story line of this one as well as the character development. It was incredible to see Lukio's redemptive story and see how things ended as I had no idea how they were going to get there. While the major elements of the Biblical story-line are in the first book and this book just happens to take place in the same time period (in other words, not much Bible story-telling in this one), it was still an enjoyable Biblical fiction read and brought and enjoyable conclusion to the first book in the series. I would strongly recommend to fans of inspirational historical and particularly Biblical historical fiction. Special thanks to the author and publisher for an advance copy of this novel. Extra special thanks to the author for the bonus chapters offered to pre-orders that amplified this story as well. I was under no obligation to provide a review and the thoughts contained herein are my own.
Wow! If you enjoy reading historical biblical fiction, you will definitely want to add this series to your library! Connilyn Cossette makes this particular Old Testament time period, when the prophet Samuel was judge over Israel, come alive. The book is so well researched and written, that it made me want to go back to the Bible and read about Samual, the ark of the covenant, and what all was taking place during this time period. Between the Wild Branches is the perfect conclusion to this two book series, that follows the lives of sister and brother, Eliora and Lukio. In this book, we follow the story of Lukio, who left his Hebrew adoptive family to return to Ashdod. He believes that his life will be much happier and better in the land of his birth. After years of being used for financial gain by his cousin, he finally realizes the so-called glamour and lifestyle of being a well-known Philistine prizefighter may bring him great riches and all he thought he desired, but he found that it left him feeling empty and longing for what he left behind in Israel. Unexpectedly meeting his childhood Hebrew friend, Shoshana, whom he genuinely loved, causes Lukio to questions his achievements and all that he thought he wanted in life. Knowing that she had been captured by his people, and brought to his country to be a slave causes his heart to soften and he begins to see everything he lost by leaving his birth sister and adoptive family in Kiryat-Yearim. He begins to see the truth of the Philistine people and how brutal they were; as well an understanding of how much his sister and Hebrew family loved him. Lukio makes some difficult choices, in order to protect Shoshana and other Hebrew slaves, willing to sacrifice his life and all that he has achieved, for theirs. He finds that family ties are strong, whether by blood or adoption, and is shown what that love looks like, even when undeserved. Most importantly, Lukio realizes that Yahweh is truly the one and only God. Many details from the first book in this series came to a wonderful conclusion in this book; some being happy surprises that I had forgotten about or didn't realize that they needed resolved. The guard, Jaru, was one of those happy surprises. Connilyn Cossette is a gifted writer that makes the characters, biblical perspective and time period come alive; which is why I thoroughly enjoy her books.
Wow!! I am so in awe of those book. It completely reflects the gospel and the strong narrative or forgiveness and grace. This is the second book in a series and I would definitely recommend reading the first before you embark on this one. It will draw out the heart of the book and help you understand the main character’s motives better. I am so thankful the author chose to write a second one. This book came into my life when I needed it and I’m thankful that God used it in such a way. I was given a free copy for this review.
I have been dying to read Lukio's story ever since reading the first book in this series about his sister. I knew from the end of that one that this one would have some painful moments as Lukio's rebellious spirit was dealt with and he made his way back to Yahweh and His people. Honestly, I was almost afraid it would be too painful and I wouldn't enjoy reading it, but I should not have feared because Connilyn Cossette hasn't let me down yet. Every one of her books is my favorite, and I've never found something I didn't like about any of them. I absolutely fell in love with the heroine of this book. I never expected her to have such depth from when we met her in book one, but she turned out to be really inspiring. Her courage and resilience is something I want to emulate in my own life. I love the way she stood up for those she loved and for those who were in need. I don't want to give anything away, but I'll just say that one of the side characters was such a joy to meet. That in itself made this book for me! But the rest is so, so good! Highly recommend! Read it as soon as you can get your hands on it! I received a complimentary early copy of this book from the author.
The thing we never talk about in Prodigal Son stories is all the time the Prodigal loses while he is prodigal. Sure, we cover the bad at the beginning, we mention the stuff he’s going through during, and we definitely discuss the return home, but all the life that is missed — what family and friend’s go through while the Prodigal is gone, how they change and grow and marry and have kids and get jobs, etc. — is just missed and we never talk about it. Our perspective always stays with the Prodigal. He becomes the focus and all those he left just get left. For me, this is always the most devastating aspect of any Prodigal Son story. Between the Wild Branches really had me thinking on Prodigals. What drives us to be prodigal? Whether we want to admit it or not, we all have prodigal moments in our lives. We all “leave” to pursue what we want, when we want it, how we want it. We think we are so smart. We think we know better than those who love us the most. In fact, we convince ourselves that maybe our loved ones don’t really love us the most or they wouldn’t keep us from that thing we want. So we leave. In book 1, To Dwell Among Cedars, Lukio is a teenager. He is hurt by others and he doesn’t get what he wants, so he leaves. He leaves his adopted family, his dear sister, and the girl he loves all because he has hurt feelings, because he is stubborn, and because he assumes a whole lot. He decides to take control over his own life … and runs right into slavery. At first, slavery looks and feels good. He rises in the ranks as Ashdod’s best fighter. Women want him. Men want to be him. Every worldly desire is at his fingertips. He doesn’t need anyone or any god because Lukio is his own man. At the start of Between the Wild Branches, Lukio is pretty much at the top of his world. And then he sees Shoshana, the girl who got away, and his cushy, opulent life gets shifted on its very axis. The Prodigal has to face his truth — and what a journey it is! This novel, like every other novel by Cossette, is outstanding. There are so many nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat moments that I feel Between the Wild Branches is totally unputdownable. My husband asked me to describe the storyline in a sentence and I told him, “Think Schindler’s List but scarier.” When I read in the Bible about the different kingdoms and rulers that surrounded Israel, I clearly get the sense that the nations were exceptionally debauched and devoid of a moral compass. The Philistines were a rough people. I know good people existed in these various nations — Rahab and Ruth spring to mind — but in general, the nations were scary. Cossette does a great job capturing this aspect when she recreates ancient Ashdod. She also does a great job illustrating the hatred the Philistines felt towards the Israelites. King Nicaro is a straight-up terrifying character who wants to hurt and shame and destroy every Israelite, and what he allows to be done to people is gut-wrenching and sickening. BUT, no matter how bad Nicaro gets GOOD thwarts his plans. Yes, this earth is pretty terrifying right now. I think it may even be as scary as the days of the ancient Philistine. Right now it looks the darkest I have ever seen it and even scarier things are on the horizon. But no matter how dark it gets, God has His people stationed all over doing His good works. For some, that looks like teaching the kids no one really cares about or expects much out of; for some, it’s fighting terrorists in a military setting; and for some, it’s being in the trenches desperately doing everything they can to save humans from trafficking (just like in Between the Wild Branches). No matter how dark it gets, God still wins cause GOOD is still here. This is the point of Between the Wild Branches. We cannot lose hope in these dark times. Light will always prevail. What a perfectly beautiful truth and such an inspirational reminder for us all today. Between the Wild Branches is AMAZING and I loved every minute of this story. This is definitely a book I will re-read again. I highly recommend this story and hope that you will immediately add it to your TBR list. This is a book you do not want to miss! I received a copy of this novel in eBook form from the publisher, Bethany House Publishers, via NetGalley in order to review. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.
Between the Wild Branches by Connilyn Cossette Bethany House You Like Them You Are Auto-Approved Bethany House Publishers Christian | Historical Fiction | Romance Pub Date 06 Jul 2021 | Archive Date 11 Aug 2021 This is the second book in the series so you may want to backtrack and read the first one for background. This is a new author for me, but I love Bethany House and the books they have so I thought I would give it a try. I'm glad I did. Great book! Thanks to Bethany House and Net Galley for the ARC. I do have a pet peeve though: how many times did the author say Lukio is "big and beautiful." Too much sensuality for this type of book. 4 star
Connilyn Cossette's imagination never ceases to amaze me and exceed my expectations! After I finished the first novel, I thought I had an idea of how the story would continue, but Between the Wild Branches quickly blew my predictions into the dust. In her usual richly descriptive style, she took me along on an adventurous journey of sacrificial love and redemption that I am still thinking about weeks later. Connilyn is exceptionally talented at bringing the Bible times and culture to life and if you haven't read any of her books you totally should! Between the Wild Branches could probably be read as a stand alone, but I highly recommend reading the first novel in this series before beginning this one. I can't wait to read what she comes up with next! Thank you Bethany House and Net Galley for the free DRC of this book. The opinions expressed here are my own.
SO good! This could be read as a stand-a-lone story but there are plenty of comments about the main characters' childhoods, that you'll likely end up wanting to read the first in the series anyway. (You won't regret it, I promise.) This story picks up 10 years after To Dwell Among Cedars. Lukio has returned to Ashdod to pursue the life he had always dreamed of. Along the way, his past inadvertently runs into him helping him to realize what is really important in life. I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
Between the Wild Branches centers around the love story of a Philistine man and a Hebrew slave, who love each other in spite of the great divide between the people of their blood. When I finished the first book in the series, To Dwell Among the Cedars, I couldn’t wait to hear the rest of Lukio’s story. It was clear that his abrasive behavior was due to deep-rooted pain and insecurities. The connection that he has with Soshana is so beautiful and real. Each main character had a personal journey with God, learning about his deeply rooted love for them. I highly recommend this book!
Loved this one even more than the first. While reading the last half of the book, I couldn't wait to put it down. I appreciated seeing the differences in culture between the Hebrews and the Philistines that Connilyn Cossette researched. Her writing makes you feel like you are in the story and among the characters. I love Lukio's story of redemption and the way that so many of the characters are woken together. Even though some of the story is hard to read at times due to the many injustices that the characters face, the injustices make the characters more real and the story that much more beautiful. Highly recommend this book, especially to lovers of historical fiction. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
What an amazing book this was. I had been waiting for this book since finishing book 1, To Dwell Among Cedars. I could hardly wait to read it and it was as good as I had hoped and expected from this wonderful author. This was Lukio's story as his past comes back into his life and finds the woman he cared so much for in his youth. But so much has happened since they were torn apart from the wishes of her father. So many changes and things to complicate their lives. There is a very interesting storyline and a story of repentance and striving for the good as opposed to the evil. Both books of this set are excellent and make for good biblical period fiction. I love historical things and the lifestyle and events are always very interesting to read about. I love this author's work and can't wait to see what her next book will be about. I am sure it will be amazing! I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author. All thoughts are my own.
My Review: It's not often that when I start the next book in a series that my mind still feels so fresh from the previous one. Well, with Between the Wild Branches certainly felt like it picked up with my emotions right where To Dwell Among Cedars left off - at least with my emotions towards Lukio. I wasn't surprised to find Lukio exactly where I expected - in a fight for money. Sigh... it was rough to find him in such conditions, but that seemed to be what he was searching for when he left Kirya-Yearim all those years ago. He really was just a heart broken, lost boy back then. While my heart went out to him, I was also frustrated with him. lol I think Lukio reminds me of all of us in one way or another to some extent. We're all trying to find our purpose. Some of us are running because we don't know what that purpose is and the running makes us feel safe only to find out we're not where we thought we'd be. It was such an interesting idea to be drawn into Philistia fictional world. The way we see them in the Bible as so ruthless and following idols, I liked how the author created an idea of what it was like during those times. And for her to bring Shoshana into this difficult world brought the story to life. To see Lukio now through not only Shoshana's eyes, but also through the eyes of the Philistines was quite the dichotomy. When she first was remembering their childhood together in book one, I felt like I was remembering it at the same time. I could also feel the tension of having lived in two different worlds for Lukio. He can see his future with King Nicaro's daughter, but now he's being reminded of his past. I loved watching God's hand move throughout this entire story! We know about the Ark and it being sent back to the Israelites, but to get a glimpse of slaves in Philistia and how God uses people to rescue them is wonderful! The way He ties people together to work for His good! So well done!! Of course, the redemption thread in the story is, to me, the most important one. Also, grace and mercy are shown through a variety of characters in the story. All important ones for us to use as examples in our own lives. Betrayal comes with a price, but when there's a chance to give mercy and/or grace, that we should take the opportunity to do so! I can't wait to see what Connilyn Cossette has up her sleeve for her next novel, but not matter what, I'll be first in line to read it!!
I love ancient historical fiction, and Ms. Cossette is a pretty good writer. The story was original, and I liked the different setting and story. I liked how she portrayed the Philistines, (not all bad, but not all good either) - unlike biblical texts - and I enjoyed the growing love between the two characters. Fans of biblical fiction will enjoy this.
This book kept me on the edge of my seat! The story that started in To Dwell Among Cedars (the 1st book in the series) comes to life in a completely captivating way and just brings everything to a breathtaking conclusion. I have loved every part of this journey with Lukio, Shoshana, and Eliora. I highly recommend The Covenant House Series! Connilyn, you are such an inspired author!
My new favorite from Connilyn Cossette! The character development in Between the Wild Branches was explosive and exquisite. Lukio captivated my attention in the first book because he was so wounded, confused and misunderstood. I knew he was a powerhouse just waiting for the right development. Wow. Lukio has finally achieved all he ever wanted and escaped from all the painful memories and questions. Until he sees Shoshana one night. In a moment’s breath, his newly created empire begins to crumble from the inside out. Shoshana has her own painful past and secrets as well that fully explain her behaviors, past and present. I love the contrasts in their characters and personalities and yet the way they complement one another. The plot is so perfectly paced that I just kept turning pages and before I knew it, I was breathing deeply as I turned the last page. The historical details are rich and informative. The ever presence of God is powerfully peaceful and a beautiful reminder from start to finish. Do not miss this one!! I received a complimentary copy from the author and the publisher via NetGalley and all opinions expressed are solely my own, freely given.
I devoured Between the Wild Branches by Connilyn Cossette. Mortal danger, secrets of the past, and palace conspiracies combined to produce an adventuresome read that kept me turning the pages of Lukio and Shoshana’s story. Though their youthful romance derailed with her betrothal to another, longing and mutual concern laced every interaction between the two characters, and I couldn’t help but hope for complete reconciliation. Also, I admired Lukio’s strength, character development, and example of true repentance. His transformation during the story aligned with a powerful theme of eschewing evil and clinging to good. Between the Wild Branches stands as the final installment in The Covenant House Duology by Connilyn Cossette. While this novel can be read as a stand-alone, I recommend reading To Dwell Among Cedars first as the reader gets a front row view to young Lukio’s experiences rather than abbreviated memories. Also, towards the end of Between the Wild Branches, quite a few characters from book one reappear and I think I would have been a bit lost if I had not read the first novel. Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a copy of this book by the author or publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.
What a beautiful and satisfying conclusion to an excellent series! I am always impressed by the detail and research that Ms Cossette includes in her books! I loved the growth and change in the main characters and the realistic plot. I also loved the symbolism that is present. Another 5 star book from Connilyn Cossette
What an awesome read! I loved this great adventure that took me back to the Biblical times. I was happy that Lukio got his own story to tell. I felt that Cosette has done a great job in bringing him to life so that we might see what life was like back then. It's never good to keep secrets because sometimes they do have a way of turning up in your face whether or not you're ready for it to. I loved this fast paced book and wasn't ready to let it go because then I'll have to wait until next year for her next one! I can't wait to see what she writes next! This book will leave you with a happy feeling by the end of the book. A great ending! My thanks to Bethany House publishing for a copy of this book. I was NOT required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.
I could hardly wait to get my hands on a copy of this novel, and I certainly was not disappointed. Once again, talented Biblical fiction author Connilyn Cossette has surpassed my high expectations! Between the Wild Branches, the second book in the “Covenant House” series, is a beautifully written story of grace, mercy, and redemption that picks up in 1052 BC, ten years from when To Dwell Among Cedars left us. As this book begins, the despondent, rebellious boy Lukio is now a wealthy, popular man known as “Demon Eyes,” a highly regarded prize fighter in the Philistine world. Even so, he is still lonely, lost, and seeking the fulfillment that has always alluded him. Having gained the favor of the king, he believes he has finally “made it.” It is then that his true love, Shoshana, reappears in his life, and his world and priorities realign in a heartbeat! Cossette is a genius at both character development and pacing, and the depth of her historical research is readily evident on every page she writes. I do not want to give away too much. Suffice it to say this highly suspenseful story kept me up well into the night, as I could not leave these beloved characters in such danger, turmoil, and uncertainty! Between the Wild Branches could easily be read as a stand-alone novel, but I would recommend reading the first book in advance for background knowledge. I highly recommend this novel, as well as all of Cossette’s other books, to anyone who enjoys historical fiction set in Bible times. I received an advance copy from the publisher through NetGalley but was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are entirely my own.
Between the Wild Branches, Connilyn Cossette This is book #2 in a two part series. This second book, takes up the story begun in To Dwell Among Cedars, of Lukio, the rebellious and angry younger brother of Arisa. Ten years after Lukio has arrived back in the Philistine city of Ashdod, he has become a champion but lonely fighter. Lukio is unexpectedly reconnected with Shoshana, his childhood love. Both have suffered and endured many changes. Shoshana is now a captured Hebrew slave and Lukio becomes engaged to the king’s daughter. The king is obsessed with finding the ark of the covenant and destroying all the Hebrews. This book is a fictional story based on the Biblical account of the capture of the ark of the covenant in 1 Samuel. It is a gripping and involved story that was enhanced by knowing the story from book #1 in the series but could be read on its own. I looked forward each day to sitting down and reading it! While the book begins with the story from 1 Samuel 4 and weaves characters that are both believable and intriguing while culturally accurate. The plot has many twists and turns and I enjoyed both the surprises and resolution of the story. If you enjoy fictional stories based in ancient cultures, you’ll enjoy this book (and all the books by this author!). To say I love this author’s writing is putting it mildly. I have read all her books and will look forward to reading whatever else she writes. I was provided with a digital copy of the book from Bethany House for my honest review. All opinions are my own.
My dilemma is how to write a review that will do justice to this book. Once again Connilyn Cossette has taken us to Old Testament times and dropped us into a story of people and places we read about in Scripture. Her in-depth research of people and places of Biblical times, allow us to see, hear and feel right along with the people in her stories. We first met Lucio in To Dwell Amongst Cedars as an orphaned Philistine boy who fled Ashdod with his sister, Arisa, following The Ark. Ten years later we find him back in his hometown of Ashdod where he is known as the famous fighter “Demon Eyes”. Has the fame and fortune satisfied him as he dreamed it would? Seeing Shoshana, a friend from his time in Kiryat-Yearim, throws his planned- out life into a tale spin. How did this Hebrew girl end up in Ashdod and how will meeting her again change the course of their lives, and will he stop fighting the call of The One Who Sees and surrender to the One True God leaving behind him the pagan gods of his homeland? Romance, intrigue, murder, pagan practices, prodigals, families, faith, and hope because of The One Who Sees make this a must-read book of the summer. I wish I could give this book 10 stars. Even readers who do not read Biblical fiction will enjoy this book. I recommend reading the first book in this Covenant House series To Dwell Among Cedars first because you will meet the characters and have a deeper understanding of all that transpires in Between the Wild Branches. Thank you to the publisher, author and NetGalley for an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.
After waiting half a year for the final installment of The Covenant House duology, Connilyn Cossette once again showcases why she is one of the best Biblical Fiction authors with the release of Between the Wild Branches! A true artist, Connilyn takes readers on a spiritual journey, bringing the Old Testament to life and highlighting a truth that impacts not only her main characters but everyone who reads her novels! Each book is more than a form of entertainment; they’re a testimony of faith that shines the glory of our incredible Creator on every page! Between the Wild Branches begins ten years after the events of To Dwell Among Cedars. Lukio, Eliora’s brother, is all grown up and, with the help of his crafty cousin, has become the revered fighting champion of Ashdod. With bitterness and resentment still boiling within him, Lukio has spent the last decade building a prosperous life for himself, embracing his Philistine heritage in attempts to shed any influence the Hebrews had on him. However, just as he’s about to receive everything he’s worked hard to achieve, someone from Lukio’s past re-enters his life, throwing all he thought he knew in disarray and setting him on a path he never thought he’d cross again. What will Lukio choose when he is forced to decide between the home he fled from and the one he ran to? "I’d claimed countless victories since I returned to Ashdod as a fifteen-year-old boy with my hopes crushed and my blood boiling with betrayal, and yet each one seemed to matter less than the last." “The collision of our gazes felt like two ships ramming each other at full speed, and the shimmer of grief in her hazel eyes stripped me to the bone.” Captured by the Philistines, Shoshana is enslaved in Ashdod with any hope of seeing her children again only possible in her dreams. Determined to survive, Shoshana does her best to stay in the shadows. However, when her mistress becomes betrothed to the notorious fighter, Demon Eyes, Shoshana will have to navigate her way through the tangled web of secrets and past regrets when she comes face-to-face with the boy she once loved. Is Lukio still the same dual-color-eyed boy she used to sneak into the woods in Kiryat-Yearim to see, or has the last decade destroyed any chance of reconciliation? "There was nothing between us now but regret and bittersweet memories." “Nothing can replace all the years the locusts have consumed between then and now. And nothing can change the fact that I am a slave to your soon-to-be wife.” From the opening scene, I knew Between the Wild Branches would be unlike anything Connilyn Cossette has written. Taken on an emotional rollercoaster (the good kind), I laughed, cried, gasped, and swooned my way through this book. Lukio and Shoshana’s stories captured my heart, making me feel like I was experiencing everything they were. Surprised at every turn, I had no idea how Connilyn would tie everything together; it all seemed impossible, but the ending did not disappoint! (Cue the tears) Based primarily in Philistine territory, readers get an in-depth perspective of what it was like to live amongst the pagan, blood-thirsty people of Philistia. Full of suspense, action, love, and forgiveness, Between the Wild Branches will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end! None of us think we deserve unconditional love, but there comes a moment in our lives where we will learn where our true home lies. Can we let go of the past to move into a brighter future, or will we harden our hearts and remain in the prison we didn’t realize we’ve created? Between the Wild Branchess explores all of this and more in this epic tale that will stay in your mind for weeks to come! “My lust for power and wealth, along with my determination to free myself from Mataro’s clutches, had only ensnared me in servitude to another master.” *Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a pre-release copy of this book. My thoughts and opinions are entirely my own!*
What a wonderful surprise this book was! I won't give away any spoilers, but will stick to praising the author for her ability to create a believable, suspenseful story with wonderful characters. I'm usually not a big fan of Biblical historical fiction, but Cossette's work is different and I love all her books.
Oh my goodness, this book was so hard to put down! I was excited to read about Lukio after finishing To Dwell Among Cedars (the first book in The Covenant House series) and I was not disappointed in his novel. I do recommend that you read these books in order to best understand the characters, which are told with great depth and development. I thought the author did a phenomenal job of researching the Biblical context and then using the fictional storyline to bring the circumstances to life. I felt immersed in the culture of Biblical times. There are some serious topics consistent with the culture at that time, but I do think the author did a fantastic job of weaving hope throughout the story. It left me feeling satisfied with the ending. The novel had unexpected twists and turns that kept it interesting and made it hard to stop reading. I highly recommend this novel! I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author. Opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.
Between the Wild Branches is a sequel to To Dwell Among Cedars, a continuation of two Philistine orphans, Arisa and her brother, Lukio. At the end of Cedars, Lukio has left his Hebrew “family” to return to an abusive Philistine relative whom he thinks is true family. We readers have been excited for this sequel to learn of what happened to Lukio, now in the land of his birth. In Branches Lukio has emerged as the Philistine champion called “Demon Eyes” (because each of his eyes is a different color). He is unbeatable. Lukio has partaken of all that pagan society has to offer him. He’s now an extremely wealthy man who has found great favor with the King. In fact, the King offers his most favored daughter to Lukio as a wife. They become betrothed. This is where the story begins its twisting and turning, keeping the reader on the edge of her seat. Shoshana, Lukio’s childhood friend and the love of his heart, turns out to be his betrothed’s slave. SHOCK! As the story unfolds, Lukio’s eyes are opened to the atrocities being done to the captured Hebrews. Shoshanna’s life has been one of pain and suffering, and Lukio’s heart is enraged at all that has been done to her. He can no longer turn a blind eye. As he becomes an advocate for the enslaved Hebrews (especially Shoshana), he meets others within the palace who are helping free the slaves. He enters a world of deceipt and extreme danger, where his life may be required of him if he is found out. Throughout these last chapters, as Lukio’s heart opens up to pain of others, his eyes begin to open and he slams right into the One Who Sees, who sheds truth into his heart and mind and leads him to Truth. There is much heartache and joy as the pages turn. I admit, I shed tears in several spots. The ending, of course, leaves the reader satisfied and full of joy. Cossette is a writer who develops her characters at a deep level. I felt I was a personal friend of Lukio and Shoshana by the end of this series. Characters from Cedars are in Branches, which enriches the sequel. Cossette does her research before embarking on a series. She transports the reader back in time. I felt the pain of the vicious dog fights, the abuse done to the Hebrew slaves, the brutal human fight scenes in the arena, and the nauseating hedonistic pagan festivals. However, Cossette sprinkles bits of Yahweh truth throughout the book, ending the book with a huge gust of His truth that sets the protagonist free. My heart was overjoyed with the ending. If you are looking for a summer read that will draw you into another world from several thousand years ago, THIS IS THE BOOK! You will not be disappointed! I would, however, recommend you read To Dwell Among Cedars first as it will give you a deeper enjoyment of Between the Wild Branches. Happy reading! From, a VERY satisfied reader of Connilyn Cossette books.
This is Biblical fiction at its finest. Connilyn Cossette knocks it out of the park yet again. The author truly has a gift of making the Bible come alive in full color and in 4-D where you can see, taste, touch, smell, and hear what it may have been like during the time periods she writes about. In this second book of the Covenant House series, we are transported to the city of Philistine's Ashdod during 1052BC while Samuel is rising in power as the judge in Israel. I can't imagine the amount of research it must have taken for the author to create such an incredible backdrop so that the average modern reader like myself can understand the culture that prevailed back then. Threaded within this setting is the utterly heart-breaking and heart-wrenching tale of a boy and a girl, separated and torn apart by bigotry, anger, hatred, war, misguided loyalty, insecurity, and so much regret. Though this book can be read as a stand-alone, I'd highly recommend reading the series in order so that you can fully appreciate Lukio's maturation into a man of honor and compassion. Shoshana and Lukio are one of my favorite fictional couples whom I've had the pleasure to meet this year. Shoshana is strong, resourceful, and faithful even though she's been through so much pain and suffering in her short life. Lukio is steadfast, reliable, compassionate, and merciful even though he makes a living as a fighter. Tragedies of war and human sin are on full display throughout the story but the hope, grace, and forgiveness found in the One True God surpass all the ugliness. Beautiful pictures of spiritual and physical adoption are woven into the characters' lives. The themes of belonging, unconditional love, and true acceptance are so exquisitely drawn into the plot. It also has intrigue in the subplot which adds suspense and excitement. There are unexpected and tender friendships as well as betrayal. The secondary characters are so lovely and lovable that I wish the author would write more sequels to tell their stories. This book gave me goosebumps from how real everything felt, the raw emotions, and the surprising twists and turns. Be prepared to shed lots of tears - Lukio and Shoshana will bring you from the edge of despair to the mountaintop of purpose and unfailing love. One of my top 2021 reads! I received the book from Bethany House Publishers and was under no obligation to post a positive comment. All opinions are solely my own.
I will also add this review to Amazon tomorrow on the launch date. Thank you This is a review for Connilyn Cossette's latest book "Between the Wild Branches". I wrote a review about the story, and spoiler alert, I do tell how the story ends, but I wanted to write a review of how the book touched my heart, and it really did...so know that if you read my long review. This book and this series is one of my favorites!!! I love Connilyn Cossette's writing style, stories, and characters. She is an excellent writer, and this story is so engaging, and NOT predictable at all! I honestly gave it 5 stars because I literally couldn't put it down! It comes out on July 6. Please consider buying it as you won't be sorry you did! Review for Between the Wild Branches, book 2 of the House of Covenant Series by Connilyn Cossette If you would have told me that I would love a sequel as much I loved the first book in a series, I would have told you that there's no way, but in the case of Between the Wild Branches, I loved it just as much as To Dwell Among the Cedars, which was the first book in Connilyn Cossette's House of Covenant series. I literally counted the days till the sequel came out, because o couldn't wait to find out what happened to Lukio, and I was not disappointed! I found Lukio in Ashdod, and he had built a life of every type of pleasure known to man, and he was rich an famous fighter known as Demon Eyes, because he had one green eye and one brown. He had become a champion fighter that beat his opponents with the blood and gore that the people of the Philistine city of Ashdod cried out for. He was serving all their different gods, was rich, and had a home that was the envy of many people, so why was he not satisfied, and empty inside? I loved how the author showed that this high life, which most of us would think we would really enjoy if we could just become rich and famous, wasn't all it was cracked up to be. But even though Lukio was empty inside, he still kept on pursuing his own desires and wants, and that lead him to get away from his cousin who used him all those years of fighting, to get rich himself, and becomes the champion of Ashdod.Lukio ends up partnering with the king of Ashdod, who offers him all he could dream of, if he would become his champion, take over organizing games for the people of Ashdod, and even offers his daughter in marriage Marida, to Lukio, which sounds like everything Lukio has ever dreamed of. It also will give him a chance to break away from his cousin, and start building a life of his own where he can be in charge of his own life and finances. What more could he want in life? Well, all seemed well. He was back in Ashdod, had become the city's champion, who they named Demon Eyes, because he had one green eye and one brown, he was rich, and was to be married to the kings beautiful and kind daughter,, and now would be in charge of running those very games and fights he had participated in...life couldn't be better for Lukio, but at times, he really missed his sister, Eliora, who he had been there for him, and who abandoned in Kiriath Jearim after she was marriedif. He even missed the family who took him in on occasion, but the one he missed most of all, and even though he tried and tried to forget, was his Tesi. She still haunted his dreams, but he was bound and determined to forget his former life, and step into this new opportunity, and make the most of it. The author also tells the story of Shoshana. We find her in Ashdod working as a slave to the third daughter of the king of Ashdod, Mariada, but her Mariada's mother is not the first wife of the King, but is the favored wife. Shoshana has been through a very hard life up to this point. She had always planned to marry her Lukio, but her father sold her to a wicked man, who was Lukio's nemesis, Medad, but her father owed that man money, so he gave Shoshana to him for marriage to pay his debts. Shoshana married him, and had a son and a daughter with him, but she never loved him, and he never loved or was ever kind to her, unlike her Lukio. The philistines attacked the Hebrew city of Beth Shamesh where Shoshana and her husband were living in, and her husband was killed, and she sent her two children away and asked the man who she sent them with to please take them to Kirith Jearim to be with Eliora and the family who took her and Lukio in, because Shoshana had also grown up there, and knew they would be take care of. She said goodbye quickly to them, and thought she'd never see them again, and was captured by the Philistines, and was taken as a slave to the palace of the king to serve his daughter Mariada, the very woman Lukio was to be married to. I was shocked as I was reading the book when Lukio when one day, he was strolling into the king's palace to visit his betrothed, and there standing off in the shadows waiting to serve her mistress, stands his Tesi, Shoshana to everyone else. The air comes out of his lungs, and the same for her, but neither can say anything to the other, or even let on that they knew each other. But then Lukio does remember just exactly the affect Shoshana has on him as we read when they met together for the first time they met, Lukio said, "Although I loosened my grip, I hated to let her go fully. It felt good to be so close to her again. Even after a decade’s worth of bitterness toward her and brokenness without her, her presence soothed me like it had always done, since the first day she’d appeared before me at our sycamore tree. The little girl with uneven braids, a dimpled smile, and so many freckles they reminded me of the night sky had refused to let me wallow in embarrassment and anger after my first scuffle with Medad." Wow! What a twist! The author then weaves their stories back together again, but I don't want to ruin it for you...you must read it for yourself to find out what happens to Lukio and Shoshana. I loved this story! I loved how the author takes two broken people, and weaves them back together, as God does us. As Christians, we have been grafted back into the tree that the Hebrews were born into, just as Lukio and Eliora were. Shoshana had come through so many hard times that she had no control over, but she continued to serve Yahweh, and He eventually healed those hurts all those hard times caused, and restored both her and Lukio individually and together. She brings in many people into both of their lives to help them on this journey, one specifically that I was shocked and so excited to meet, which was the character of Jaru, who was the son of the beloved Hebrew nurse who loved and trained Lukio and his sister in the ways and stories of Yahweh, and who sacrificed her life to rescue them. I loved that the author wove him into this story, and he became one of Lukio's dear friends, and helps them, and many others escape from Ashdod at a great risk to himself and his family! I also loved how the Lukio's Hebrew family never stopped loving him, or gave up on him. They looked for him after he left, but were unsuccessful. When the opportunity came to rescue Lukio from Ashdod, they never hesitated. He was still there brother, and they were bound and determined to bring him home! What I really loved most about the story was the restoration process of Lukio and Shoshana, which were polar opposites. God restored them individually, and then together! Lukio's early life was filled with hardship, but he was cared for by so many people that the Lord had put in his path, but he didn't know how to accept that love, and it made him bitter. It wasn't till after he saw Shoshana again, that the ice began to thaw in his life, and his eyes were open to the love that could have been his had he not rejected it. Just like he said in the book, "There had been such strain between myself and my older brothers during the years I spent in Kiryat-Yearim, all of it due to my refusal to believe that they accepted me as I was. I’d taken most everything they said or did as a slight of some sort, never understanding that even their gentle chastisements were offered from a place of love." So Lukio had to face some hard facts that the problem wasn't everyone else, but his refusal to believe that his Hebrew family, the one God had sent him to, had accepted him exactly as he was. It wasn't until he realized that, that the healing began, and he could finally accept all God had offered him. Lukio was shown such love and acceptance from Shoshana first, then Jaru, then his family, and even Igo, a boy who used to follow him around everywhere, but who Lukio never really appreciated. Then Lukio gets an opportunity to pay forward the love and care he has received when he gets the opportunity to save a young Hebrew slave boy, Zevi, who Lukio rescues from the fate of slavery many suffered back then. Watching Lukio take Zevi under his wing like his Hebrew dad did for him, was amazing to watch. I loved how to author allowed Lukio to pay the love and care he received forward to a boy who was only a slave, because Lukio for all his wealth was only a slave in reality as well - a slave to his cousin who used him to become rich, and a slave to the king of Ashdod who only wanted to use Lukio to increase his wealth and power as well. Lukio realized neither of these men cared for him, and realized those who did love him, only wanted him, not what he could do for them! Then there was Shoshana, whose pain she experienced was mostly caused by the others in her life, was restored by her Creator, who she never gave up on, and He never gave up on Him. She didn't become bitter even after being married to a man who didn't care for her which meant giving up her beloved Lukio, nor even when she lost her children after the Philistine raid, nor after watching her daughter day after day being raised by another woman, nor after watching all the horrible things that happened to her people at the hands of the Philistines. Wow! I am not sure I could have done that. No, Shoshana just kept doing what she could to help others by helping rescue slaves with her network of friends, and serving her mistress with great love and care. She could have hated her mistress, Mariada, because she was to be married to Lukio, but she set aside her own feelings and desires, and was determined to love her mistress, and do all she could to help Mariada have the life she so desperately wanted. That can only be done with love and commitment to Yahweh, which Shoshana was completely committed to, despite all she had gone through. The author shows how God can restore broken lives and loves, and brings Lukio and Shoshana back together again, and after much repentance, mostly on Lukio's part, and forgiveness, they were completely restored to one another! First God brought Lukio back into Shoshana life, but she thought he wasn't the same Lukio she knew and loved, which she says in the book, "And truly, I had no way of knowing whether the boy I knew back then was even the same person, or if in returning to Ashdod and becoming a brutal fighter he’d tossed aside all of the traits that had caused me to trust him so completely." She knew she has broken his heart all those years ago,back then he was ready to spend the rest of his life with her, but this man who she saw and knew as the renowned "Demon Eyes", she thought was not the same person. She did hope and pray one day she would make it back home with her daughter, and be reunited with her children but for now she resolved herself to be a good slave to Mariada, help rescue whoever was sent to her network, and to trust God with the rest. God did rescue Shoshana and her baby from the Philistines, and brought Shoshana back to Kirith Jearim to be reunited with Eliora and the family that loved her and Lukio, and loved Shoshana as well, as she grew up not far from them. She was reunited with her children here but was worried she would not be reunited with Lukio, and said, "“I got my children back. My baby was returned to me. It almost seems greedy to beg Yahweh for Lukio too.." She knew Lukio loved her, but what about her children, as they are a packaged deal? But she worried for nothing as this is Lukio's response to that fear, “There is not one moment since you found me under our tree that I have not wanted to be close to you, Tesi ,” he said, “even when I was a fool and ran away. Your children are part of you, part of the woman that I adore, and I will not wait one day longer than necessary to make you all mine.” This especially touched me because I too, was adopted by my step dad, who took my older sister was 5 and I was three. We were unwanted by our father who left us and our mother. My mom.met a young man who cherished her, and adopted us, gave us his name, and became our dad who loved and cherished us as Lukio did Asher, Davina, Aaliyah and Zevi. His whole family accepted us, and treated us as their own. Now my daughter just !married a young man who has a 2 & 4 year old, and now I have the opportunity to show them the love and care Yahweh has shown me through His Son, Jesus Christ, to them, as Lukio did with the love of Yahweh and his family! And finally I loved how the author not only restored Lukio to Shoshana and her family, but how His purpose all along was to restore Lukio to Himself! Many years before, God had sent the prophet Samuel to visit Lukios Hebrew family, and Samuel had a prophecy from the Lord about Lukio, which he had rejected. Then through the process of restoration, the Lord opened Lukios eyes to see the sin of rebellion, resentment, bitterness, and showed him the need to repent and turn from those sins that had entangled him, and turn his life to the one true God, Yahweh,who created Him, loved him, and was responsible for his rescue from the king of Ashdod, and restoration to his beloved Tesi (Shoshana), her children, and Zevi and his Hebrew family who he had hurt deeply. The Bible tells us God's kindness leads us to repentance, and we see that in Lukio's story. Lukio realized after Shoshana came back into his life, that all his bitterness towards Shoshana, his sister Ellora, who he called Risk, towards his Hebrew parents and family..well I will let you hear his own words when Shoshana confronted him about his past, and how wrong his bitterness had been, "“Not angry,” he said, the words so soft I barely heard them. “Jealous.” Again, his honest response surprised me. “Of their acceptance of Eliora?”“No. I never questioned why they would love Risi so much. One cannot help but know that she is everything good in the world. It was her affection for them that I envied.”“But she adored you. Her heart toward you never changed. I’m certain it still has not, regardless of your foolish decision to run away.”“She was my sister,” he said. “My everything. For my entire life it had been just Risi and me. Truly, in many ways, she was a mother to me. And when we arrived in Kiryat -Yearim, it wasn’t only the two of us anymore.”“You were angry that she wanted to be part of their family?”“I suppose so. And I was angry that she kept me from Ashdod and all the things I thought I wanted. I begged her for months to go back. But she refused to even entertain the idea. I blamed Elazar and the others for persuading her to remain. The resentment festered inside me for so long that I was unable to look at any of it without bitterness, nor was I mature enough to see that I was blaming all the wrong people for all the wrong things.” Lukio repents, and is restored to his Creator and God brings back the memory of how He sent the prophet Samuel all those years ago to prophesy something that Lukio was seeing fulfilled that very day of his restoration, "Since the moment the thunder began, the rest of Samuel’s words from so many years ago in that apple orchard had been circling around and around in my mind. They’d meant nothing to me at the time , and I could never have predicted their exact fulfillment would happen today, but now they made perfect sense. “And when you stand at the watchtower and hear thunder from on high, your knee will bow to the True King.” And that is exactly what he did, and therefore he would live out his days loving Yahweh first, then the family he had received as a blessing from Him!
This book is fabulous! It's so well-written, with tons of details that show what day-to-day life was like at the time, interesting plot lines that show the tensions and conflicts between the Philistines and Hebrews in addition to the main storyline, and absolutely wonderful characters in Lukio and Shoshana. Shoshana has this quiet strength that made me admire her, while, Lukio, who is a bit of a mess but a heart of gold, absolutely stole my heart. He has just such a relatable character, with wounds from his childhood that hadn't quite healed leaving him hurting and vulnerable and kind of lost. I loved seeing how he just couldn't help but be kind to people, even as he has spent his life pushing people away. I just loved reading his story and seeing how things played out for him and Shoshana. Even though there's a lot of dark stuff that happens in this book, due to the violence and depravity of the Philistine culture, it was still such a boost to my spirit as it showed how God's goodness and love can shine even in those dark places and times. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book! I read an ARC provided by the author via #NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
This is one of the very few books I couldn't predict it's direction. The twists and turns are to die for. My God! I was amazed beyond reason. If there was any book that screamed divine providence, appointment and God's sovereignty, it was this book. It reminded me so much of the verse in Scripture that says, God is watching over His word to bring it to pass. I felt like crying after the book ended. The story was so sweet and made me feel so good and warm inside that I did not want it to end. I knew Lukio's story was going to be mind-blowing but I did not imagine it was going to be so exhilarating, exciting, and touching. I had tears in my eyes through parts of the story. His story shows how God changes a person's heart inside out, how he adopts one into his family and forgets ones past. I saw restoration, love, redemption, the firece and undying love of God and the devotion and loyalty of family illustrated in this book. I loved how Lukio adored Shoshana. Distances and circumstances did not douse their love for each other. I loved the name her called her "Tesi" Her heart, devotion and loyalty floored me. How one could be so kind and loyal, with no regard for their comfort amazed me. She deserved every happiness she got. It was refreshing to see the other characters in To Dweel Among Cedars featured in this book. I sure missed those beautiful woods. Connilyn Cossette excels at what she does. I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and this is my honest opinion.
Another great book by Connilyn Cossette. Biblical fiction at its best. Even though this book is part of a series this book is fine on its own. Great descriptions, great characters. And abundant grace at its best.
I was really excited to read the sequel to To Dwell Among Cedars, as I loved Lukio! He is a troubled soul throughout the first book, but he tries so hard to keep from hurting, I can’t help but love him. And now we have am entire sequel about him! And Soshana, who made a brief appearance in the first novel too. I really think you should read book 1 in order to enjoy this fully though it can be read as a standalone (but why would you, when you can place these beautiful covers together and have a complete picture?). We’re ten years later, and Lukio has left his adoptive family and is back in Philistia where he has built a name and fortune for himself as a fighter. But he has bigger plans, he wants to be rid of the toxic influence of his cousin, and approaches the king with his ideas for a festival of sports. The king hires him om spot and adds a bonus: one of his daughters. Meanwhile Soshana finds herself in a very different situation, she has lost her husband and finds herself enslaved by the enemy, Lukio’s people. And of course, she meets Lukio again and I can tell you the situation could NOT have been more awkward, exactly when he meets his new fiancee. Old feeling arise, but also old hurts and their new situation complicate everything, so Lukio’s comfortable life is turned upside down and he has te reevaluate everything he thought he knew. And Soshana has some secrets of her own… I absolutely lived for their relationship. It kept me on edge, because there were so many unresolved things! And the plot was very intense, a lot is happening, but it doesn’t take away from the character development. I just had to keep reading! It got bad as I accidentally read for an entire night. I can’t say much without spoilers, but Soshana is amazing and brave and loyal and I love her. And the setting! I never read a book about Philistia before, but it was so interesting! I think a lot of research went into it, and it shows as the setting feels very authentic and yet a bit foreign which is perfect, it felt so real! I have to mention, this culture is not for the faint of heart. I think the author balanced it out very well, showing the very realistic struggles, yet not too graphic and through the darkness it always ends with hope. The spiritual message of the prodigal son is very subtly woven through, and I think this book can be very uplifting to many people. I also loved how the author stayed clear of clichés, the fiancee of Lukio was extremely sweet and fierce at the same time, and I loved her (can we get another book with her as main character?). The other side characters were all very interesting and complex. And the end had me in tears. Happy tears. All in all it’s safe to say I loved everything lol! I received a free e-arc through Netgalley, thanks to Bethany House, but it hasn’t influenced my opinions.
Did that mean the God of the universe might actually care about him? Once again the author has taken us back to Ashdod in 1052 BC. So sure no one loved or cared about him, Lukio left his sister and the Hebrew settlement behind and has become Demon Eyes - the best fighter in all of the Philistine nation. Unexpectedly finding his lost love in Ashdod, he begins to question his rash decision. Runaways, kidnapping, murder and more - will the Golden Box continue to plague the Philistines or will they be able to find and destroy it? Perhaps Yahweh has Lukio in Ashdod for a purpose. Will he be willing to do what he can, even if it means death? He was chosen to be a son - will he accept? This story will keep you enthralled right up till the end, never allowing you to set it aside until the conclusion. Are we, as recipients of unmerited grace, ready to be used to further the kingdom? An ARC was received through Baker House Publishing Group, Bethany House Publishers and NetGalley. These impressions and comments are my own and were in no way solicited.
Before I begin, I have to admit my own bias ;): I have absolutely loved every book I have read of Ms. Cossette and this book is no exception. I have especially enjoyed her themes, characters, as well as her talent for bringing the Biblical accounts to life. Before reading Ms. Cossette's Out of Egypt series, I was basically unaware of the entire biblical fiction genre. If you are unfamiliar with the writings of Connilyn Cossette I highly suggest that you pick up any of her books. If you want to start from the beginning, I would recommend begining with exploring her Out of Egypt series followed by her Cities of Refuge series and, finally, her current series entitled The Covenant House. Without giving away the excitement of the many plot twists involved in Between the Wild Branches, I want to give a brief description. This book finds a now-famous Lukio nearly a decade after the closing of To Dwell Among Cedars. Lukio has left behind his adoptive and blood family to find fame and fortune as a fighter in the land of the Philistines. Just when Lukio thinks he is finding success and achieving his ambitions of fame and fortune, Lukio's past flashes before him in the form of his lost childhood love, Shoshana. Shoshana has been enslaved by the royal Philistine family and has many hidden scars and heartbreaks of her own. When Shoshana sees Lukio after ten years it is in a fighting ring with a huge crowd cheering him on. Could this possibly be the same Lukio who was a quiet, sweet, yet misunderstood young boy? Could the one the crowd of Philistia calls "demon eyes" still have a good heart? Is he still the same kind hearted friend she grew up with? Shoshana discovers the shocking situation that Lukio suddenly finds himself in, that of being engaged to the king's daughter. Can Lukio help Shoshana with her struggles? Will he want to? Can Shoshana recover from heartbreak again? Will Lukio's luck persist? Can Shoshana convince Lukio to return to his family and her homeland? Will there be anything left to come home to? To be honest, when I discovered that Lukio was the focus of the next book in this series, I was surprised. I was curious if the plot would be exciting enough because I couldn't remember Lukio's character standing out in the previous book of the series. My worries couldn't have been further from the truth. Between the Wild Branches is an exceptionally exciting, fast-paced adventure full of plot twists and heart-wrenching situations. I thoroughly enjoyed and loved the main characters of Lukio and Shoshana, especially since it felt as if the readers were able to watch Lukio and Shoshana grow from young children with fears and troubles to full grown adults with dangerous secrets and problems. I hope that you have the opportunity to read Between the Wild Branches. If you are looking for an entertaining, can't-put-it-down kind of book, this is it! It does not disappoint and I think that it is a very wholesome and worth the read! Disclaimer: Bethany House Publisher graciously provided me with a copy of this book through NetGalley. All opinions are my own and part of an unbiased review.
Between the Wild Branches is a stunning finale for the Covenant House duology. While each can be read as a standalone, I highly recommend reading To Dwell Among Cedars first. I was so happy to read Lukio's story, which celebrates the power of repentance and unmerited grace. Connilyn Cossette has painted a brilliant tapestry of words, bringing to life ancient history. While this is a work of fiction, it in no way conflicts with biblical truths. Cossette's research into Philistia's history and culture come to life under her pen. This poignant story of grace checked off many boxes for me: adventure, fast-paced plot, strong characters, family and faith. The compassionate humanity Cossette portrayed within her characters' motivations and beliefs held me captive from the very first paragraph. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author/publisher and was not required to write a review. All opinions expressed are my own.
If you are looking for a book that you won’t be able to put down, this is it! Connilyn Cossette has filled this book with many twists and turns and edge of your seat moments. I cried a few times, I held my breath many times. I had imaginary conversations with the characters time and time again. Through it all, Cossette confirms that Jesus can help us put our past behind us while giving us a hopeful future full of love and joy. This is the last of a two book series, so we already know part of the characters. The characters have been through much in the past ten years since the end of To Dwell Among Cedars. Cossette does a great job of continuing the character development - suspenseful but satisfying. Just when I was tempted to flip through and find out why Shoshana had to stay where she was, a few pages later, it was revealed. As she has done in her previous two series (Out From Egypt and Cities of Refuge), Cossette does a wonderful job of interlinking relationships and events between the two books which makes it even more exciting. I’m sad to see Risi and Lukio go, but excited to see what Cossette has up her sleeves next!!
A riveting story of redemption, family and unconditional love. Lukio has returned to his birthplace in Ashdod, kicking and punching his way to the top as a renown fighter for the last ten years, leaving much of his Hebrew upbringing buried in Kiryat-Yearim. I knew I would love Lukio's story ever since reading Eliora's story in To Dwell Among Cedars where I was first introduced to the tenderhearted, courageous, and at times rebellious Lukio. But this book blew past all my expectations and may be one of my favorites by this author, obviously the biggest reason for that is its hero. I think what made me like him so much was being able to see him grow up from a stubborn young boy and rebellious teen; how it all shaped him into a courageous man. I liked that he was honest with himself, and I admired how his love for Shoshanna matured throughout the story. I loved getting to know Shoshanna more from the mere glimpses we got of her in the previous book, she is a kind and compassionate woman, brave with a gift for comforting others. This is a gripping read, it grabbed me up quickly and I didn't want to put it down. It is a well plotted read filled with danger, high stakes, and many beautiful friendships. I loved how the pieces fell into place for some excellent twists that had me crowing with glee. Excellent plotting and pacing, well balanced character development and filled with adventure. But probably my favorite parts of this book are the friendships, unlikely and unexpected at times, between people of different stations in life and cultures, a wonderful example of how God can use us and others in each other's lives. The perfect second half of a fantastic duology, highly recommend to fans of Biblical fiction and ancient historical fiction! I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
This is the second book in a two book Biblical fiction series. Because it continues a story, you really need to read [book:To Dwell Among Cedars|51271719] first in order to understand the characters in this book. Cossette is among my favorite Biblical fiction authors due to her intensive research, indepth characters, and intriguing plot lines. This book focuses on Lukio who has fled the Hebrew encampment that saved he and his sister when they fled an attack up0n their Philistine village. He has been gone for 10 years, become a well known fighter, and embraced his Philistine heritage. But will all his wealth and fame bring him the peace, satisfaction, and family that he desires and will Shoshana, his Hebrew childhood friend, be able to show him a better way? The character development of both Shoshana and Lukio as the story progressed was so intense as they both drew nearer to Yahweh. Mariada, the king's daughter, played an interesting role as a secondary character along with Teitu, Lukio's, servant, and the Hebrew slaves and soldiers. Cossette brought to life this period of the Kings (ca 1050 BC) with the adoption of many of the Philistine Gods by the Israelites and the drifting away from Yahweh. Wonderful conclusion to this Biblical fiction series. **I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions are mine alone. I was not compensated for this review.
Between the Wild Branches is another fascinating Biblical fiction book from an excellent storyteller, Connilyn Cossette. It is second in The Covenant House series and could be read as a stand-alone story but reading the first book (To Dwell Among Cedars) will give a richer, more full understanding of the characters and circumstances. Cossette's books are captivating stories, rich with detail that take readers right into the scenes of ancient history. Readers will love this fictional account of Lukio, a Philistine, and Shoshana, a young Hebrew woman enslaved by the Philistines. The characters have depth and reality as they deal with intense situations. The character development, especially that seen in Lukio, and the emotions, strengths, and weaknesses portrayed in the personalities, resonate well with readers. The historical lessons about the ancient struggles between the Philistines and the Hebrews are brought expertly to life. With some edge-of-the-seat scenarios and tension-filled moments, Between the Wild Branches held my attention from beginning to end. The author weaves faith in Yahweh into the story, reminding readers what God has done in the past circumstance He can do once again in the present. I liked how one character states, "I have learned to hold...everything in my life with an open hand, trusting that no matter what, Yahweh is good". I anxiously await any new offerings from this author, and readers who love a good romance mixed with Biblical fiction will not want to miss The Covenant House series. I received a complimentary copy of the book from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a favorable review, and the opinions are my own.
This is the conclusion to the Covenant House duology and it was amazing! Lukio and Shoshana’s story was one of heartache, facing the impossible, learning forgiveness and experiencing God’s redemption! This book can be read as a standalone, but I definitely recommend to read it after “To Dwell Among the Cedars”, where the story starts when Lukio and Risi were two orphaned children in Ashdod, Philistia, taken in by their aunt and uncle, who later pass away. In order to save them, their hebrew nanny, sends them away from their cousin’s wrath, and tells them to follow the stolen Golden Ark that has been a curse to the Philistines and is returned to the hebrews. That’s how they end up at Kiryat-Yearim and were adopted by a kind Levite family who guarded the Ark of the Covenant. Risi blended in the family, despite their pagan origins, and embraced their faith. The first book is her story, where Lukio has a hard time adjusting and belonging, until he meets Shoshana and their childhood friendship bonds so strong into young love, that he knows Shoshana is the only woman he’ll ever love and eventually marry. But then, unexpectedly, at the end of the first book, Shoshana announces him that they can no longer be friends and that she’s to marry Medad, his enemy. Heartbroken after this, and after learning that his sister plans to marry and leave with the Levite who betrayed his adopted family, he can stand it no more and flees back to Ashdod, to his greedy cousin who once wanted to make a fighter of him. Ten years later, Lukio, better known as Demon Eyes because of his dual-colored eyes, is the biggest and most powerful fighter in Philistia, nobody can beat him. Wealthy and with striking looks, every woman wishes for him to look his way. But his heart has been closed for many years, only focused on fighting and building his wealth. But things begin to change when he wins the favor of the King who offers him everything he could ever humanly wish for and satisfy him, that is, except for mending and fulfilling his torn heart. Meanwhile, Shoshana has deeply suffered and come out a brave, beautiful woman, inside and out. She survived a Philistine raid and became enslaved to the King’s Palace. When Lukio discovers her at the Palace, his world is turned upside down, as well as Shoshana’s. He needs to know what happened to her, to his sister, to understand of their betrayal. His heart still stutters just by her presence, but his heart and future is now strongly compromised, and there is no place for her childhood love there. Will he and Shoshana have a chance to overcome all the odds and deception that will come their way to find true love? Will Lukio find a way to redeem and lead his heart toward the Light, and discover that the God he flew from, has never left his side? This heart-wrenching story was so beautifully crafted and written that it touched me deeply in the heart, it was very thought provoking and inspiring. I felt I was in 1052 BC in Philistia, I could see the city, the landscape, smell their scents, everything became so alive because of her description and accurately researched storytelling. The human sin, opposing God’s grace, not so very different as of our days. Abuse, hedonism, human slavery. But God’s Love prevails! She must have studied so much in order to write this book! The historical circumstances surrounding the period in which Samuel was a judge and his influence in the people of his era were so detailed and realistic, even if the main characters and their story was purely fictional. The plot was so captivating and full of action that I found myself I didn’t want to part with the book when I had to sleep or work, and I wanted to steal moments just to know what would happen next. So many beautiful dialogues. There’s intrigue, danger and deception, two cultures that clash and oppose: the pagans and the Only God’s people, and a Godly Love that knows no bounds as well as a human love that can imitate God’s Unconditional Love and be a light to others. Lukio’s journey to redemption and forgiveness, was humbling, and it was heart-tugging too. He was loyal, compassionate and merciful in spite of his brutal profession. He was willing to risk his life in order to what he felt was right. I felt as if he allowed me into his heart, his hurts, his deepest desires, his need of grace and love. Shoshana was an admirable woman, and my heart went for her too. She has suffered in a different way from Lukio, but her pain was acute all the same. To love him when she knows their love can’t ever be was so painful, yet she was so willing to sacrifice. And so willing to put others above herself. She was an inspiration to Lukio, and the vessel can ultimately lead him to a true and plentiful life, if only so many dark forces will finally let them. The romance between Lukio and Shoshana is one of the sweetest and more heart-tugging I’ve read! Oh my! And the message of this book is so touching and inspiring that it will leave you wanting to be a better person and to trust God with your life. This is one of the best Biblical fiction stories that I’ve read to be sure! I can’t recommend it highly enough! Now that this duology has concluded in such a beautiful way, I can’t wait to see what Ms. Cossette has in store for us next. She’s an auto-buy author to me! I received a complimentary book from the Publisher via NetGalley. This is my honest and unbiased opinion.
On my keeper shelf! Worth the wait! After reading the To Dwell among Cedars, I was hoping the story continued. It did! Between the Wild Branches. I was blessed to receive the second book through netgalley, for the author, Connilyn Cossette (beyond excited) because it was just as good. It continued the story of Lukio. Great read to stay up all night reading. These two books are on my keeper shelf to read again and share with friends. Historical Biblical Fiction at its best. I received a complimentary copy of Between the Wild Branches. The opinions in this review are my own.
I did not believe that this author could beat the first book in this series but I was wrong. I loved learning so much about Lukio and Shoshona. I did not think I would like Shoshana when we learned what she did to Lukio in the first book but after learning all that she endured after breaking up with him I learned to appreciate what she accomplished. This book makes you like characters that you do not think you will. I could not put this book down. I love these biblical stories that give people from this time such great personalities. I received a copy of this book from the author for a fair and honest opinion that I gave of my own free will.
There is a reason the theme of the prodigal restored is so prevalent in literature. It's because, if we are honest with ourselves, we all relate so well to the son in need of redemption and restoration. Between the Wild Branches continues Lukio's story from To Dwell among Cedars. This lonely orphan never felt he belonged to the gracious family who adopted him and his sister. Not because they lacked kindness - he merely felt he lacked worth. But you'll need to be prepared with tissues at hand! I wanted to weep over Shoshana's agony and loss. And over Lukio's pain when he realized the life he had sought was empty and he had rejected the only ones who truly loved him. But the tears truly fell as I read Yonah's declaration when he learned of Lukio whereabouts. Between the Wild Branches is a beautiful story of forgiveness and restoration - of the God who sustains the captive and redeems the lost. Many aspects of the Philistines' lifestyle are described and yet the ugliness of their life and religious practices notwithstanding, the author never went into more detail than necessary. Despite women enduring atrocities at the hands of their pagan captors, it was mentioned more as a contrast to the behavior expected and allowed by the gracious God of the Hebrews in times of war. Again, it was clear what had happened without mentioning particulars that would have made this inappropriate for sensitive readers. Readers who love Biblical fiction will want to be sure to read the marvelous Covenant House duology!
“I had run away like a spoiled child all the way to Ashdod, wounded by my perceptions…I’d run away instead of standing strong and acting like the man I’d insisted I was back then.” What an incredible Biblical fiction novel Connilyn Cossette brings to us in Between the Wild Branches, #2, The Covenant House. Lukio, who scorned the love of his adopted Israeli family has returned to his native Philistia. There, he rises to prominence as “Demon Eyes,” and “The Champion of Ashdod,” a pugilist who is wealthy, popular, and can have any woman he desires. Unfortunately, he wants the one, Shoshana, he cannot have. Lukio attracts the notice of Ashdod’s power-hungry king, Nicaro. The action ramps up from here and never lets up. First things first: read book one, To Dwell Among Cedars, before reading Between the Wild Branches. The novel will be enhanced greatly. Just as the covers fit together into one picture, so the novels fit seamlessly together and one is not complete without the other. Cossette is a fabulous storyteller, researcher, suspense artist, and Biblical scholar. I couldn’t bear to put this book down. I felt like I had opened a treasure chest when I opened this book. So many truth nuggets burst forth. A clean romance builds as it winds through the tale, achingly beautiful as Cossette feeds us only snippets of the past interwoven sporadically with the present. Biblical times customs and culture of both Israel and Philistia are explored, and the reader’s eyes are opened to what life in those countries was truly like. Strategy, intrigue, and suspense will keep either male or female readers flipping through pages as fast as their fingers and eyes can move. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. My thanks to the author and publisher for a copy of this book. No positive review was required. All thoughts are my own, voluntarily submitted.
“With explosive secrets and unbreakable vows standing between them (Lukio & Shoshana), finding a way to freedom for both may cost them everything. ~quoted from the back cover.” I enjoy a good Biblical fiction novel because it brings scripture alive for me and fleshes out people I've only read about in God's word. I learn so much more about the culture, traditions, and way of life of ancient times & people. This was my first book by Connilyn Cossette but it certainly won't be my last! I have not read the first book To Dwell Among Cedars, but I am going to after reading this one because I want to know more about Lukio & Shoshana as children. The author made them very real in my mind and invested my heart into their lives. What I loved most about this story was how it reminded me of being grafted into God's family & how He loves me no matter my heritage or who I call my family. He spoke my name and I answered so many years ago! This was a lesson that Lukio learned the hard way; my heart ached for him to know the truth of it sooner. But I also know oftentimes we learn those lessons through the heartache and trials of life.....forged in the fire if you will. God can burn away the impurities of our lives in the fiery furnace and that is exactly what He did in Lukio's heart. I watched him go through so many hard things, but I rejoiced when his eyes began to open to the truths that had always been in front of him. He was very much a changed man by the end of the book! Shoshana was a strong woman in both spirit and mind in spite of all the horrendous things she went through after her capture by the Philistines. She ended up with kind & caring mistress in Mariada who treated her well. She never forgot how precious she was to Yahweh and clung to His truths and loving ways. I admired her strength of character and getting to know her, I also ached for all she lost over the years. God truly restored what the Canker worm destroyed in the end. I won't spoil the story, but journeying through the lives of Lukio & Shoshana and all the things that went on was a real treat. I could easily envision everything; the sights, smells, and emotions. When an author makes you feel like you've stepped into the pages of their book, and are walking right beside the characters, that's truly the sign of good writing to me! The research Cossette did for this shines through and I feel like I have a deeper meaning from the time period of King Solomon in scripture. If you enjoy a well-written & well-researched Biblical fiction story, then I recommend reading Between the Wild Branches! *I received a complimentary copy from the publisher on behalf of the author. I was not obligated to leave a favorable review & all opinions expressed here are mine. *
This book was everything I'd hoped! The historical setting was fascinating, the emotions where intense and the characters were beautiful! Connilyn Cossette's extensive research was apparent as she depicted this ancient world I knew so little about before. The characters were such lovable yet broken characters, but broken in a good way in that they were stronger because of it. The romance was one of those tortured together-but-not-together type storylines with a highly anticipated kiss because they just had to be good and honourable! Just kidding it was lovely no matter how impatient I felt. This was a wonderful emotionally raw story of the prodigal returning home and the broken being redeemed!
Between the Wild Branches has sat on the tip top of my Most Anticipated Books list since I finished reading the first book in the Covenant House series (To Dwell Among Cedars) back in January. And my oh my… it was certainly worth the wait! In fact, I’m now adding it to my 2021 Favorites list, and I consider the series one of my favorite Biblical Fiction books series of all time. Yes. I loved it that much. May I also gush over the cover art? I’m a professed cover lover, after all. Wow. It is so gorgeous that I pronounce it with two syllables. Gor-geous! And if you place both books in the series side-by-side they present a beautiful panoramic masterpiece, showcasing both Philistine siblings. Sigh. Okay, I’ll try to contain my gushing from here on out. Though this is a work of fiction, it incorporates Biblical events, customs, and atmosphere. It is evident that Ms. Cossette dedicates ample time in researching the Bible and biblical history. Wow. She is a gifted storyteller, one of my favorites, who creates tangible characters out of thin air. They are so real. So lovable. So unforgettable. Okay, I’ve failed at holding back my gushing enthusiasm. It’s an impossible feat. I’ve literally fallen in love with the characters in this book. Lukio and Shoshana, along with the others are pivotal characters throughout both books and are so well developed and memorable. Their journeys are breathtaking and unpredictable. Despite trying to slow down to make the story last longer, I turned the pages at lightning speed. This can be read as a standalone book, but it would be a shame to miss out on both stories as a whole. I promise, both books will bless you. Why not take a double portion? #2021Favorites #BiblicalFiction #TheCovenantHouse #MustRead #CoverLove Dɪsᴄʟᴏsᴜʀᴇ: I ʀᴇᴄᴇɪᴠᴇᴅ ᴀ ᴄᴏᴍᴘʟɪᴍᴇɴᴛᴀʀʏ ᴄᴏᴘʏ ᴏғ ᴛʜɪs ʙᴏᴏᴋ. Mʏ ʀᴇᴠɪᴇᴡ ᴡᴀs ɴᴏᴛ ɪɴғʟᴜᴇɴᴄᴇᴅ.
***4.5 stars*** Every once in a while I come across a book that blows me away with the depth and scope of the plot and characters. Between the Wild Branches was that kind of a book for me. This is the second book in The Covenant House series. I have not read the first, but it didn't impact my understanding of this novel. This book was excellent, so I will be reading the first at a later date. Lukio and Shoshana have been through some difficult and demoralizing trials. If I were to put myself into Shoshana's shoes, I would have probably given up. Her strength is inspirational. This book is about faith in the face of adversity. It was refreshing to read a story set during the time of Samuel the Prophet. The conflict between the Hebrew and the Philistine adds tension to the story. The book contains political intrigue, secrets, and rediscovering faith. By the end of the book, I was anxiously turning the pages. I wanted to know if Lukio and Shoshana could find a happily-ever-after. It was easy to root for them and hope that the King of Ashdod would be defeated. I lost a couple of hours of sleep because I couldn't put it down. This is a Christian fiction that contains non-graphic violence. I received a complimentary copy. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.
*Contains a spoiler of the first book (ending). If you plan to read the first book before this one, proceed with caution. I’m always excited to read a new book from Connilyn because she has never disappointed me, and I’ve read all but one of her books so far (which I plan to read the one I haven’t). Anyway, her strengths are in plot and character development, which are essential ingredients for a good book. From the very beginning, I was invested in the story. This book is the second half of a duology, following two Philistine siblings (brother and sister) who escape their abusive cousin to arrive in Israelite territory and be adopted into a Levite family. This Levite family takes them in and loves them as if their own blood children. However, Lukio struggles to accept or believe in that love and returns to Ashdod, his homeland to become a notable fighter. Many years later, he discovers his childhood friend (who he met while with his Levite family) is a slave for the Philistine woman he pledged to marry. The story gets interesting from here, because there’s a lot of challenges, the main one being, determining how they can be together considering the circumstances they’re in. Already Lukio has obligated himself to the Philistine king’s daughter, who proves himself to be a ruthless man. To not make this review long, I will say, this plot alone makes the rest of the story an unpredictable page turner. Another positive I loved with this story was the theme of second chances and redemption that was naturally woven throughout. Lukio struggled with the idea of regret, leaving his Levite family, who only had the best for him, to return to Ashdod, his homeland, where people only wanted to exploit him. He struggled with accepting God’s love despite his life choices, but I like how the author used Shoshana, and even the trials they faced together in Ashdod, to test those misunderstandings. As far as negatives, there were none for me. The story was evenly paced, and felt like a page turner, with all the twists and turns that occurred in the story. The characters’ thoughts and actions were believable as well. I could picture them clearly in my mind. I would definitely recommend this story to those who love biblical fiction, historical fiction, and Christian fiction. ***This book was given to me by Netgalley and Bethany House for an honest review.***
I absolutely adored this second story in Connilyn Cossette's newest series. I'm blown away by the beauty of this tale. The characters are incredible. The story line is just so touching. Loved it the whole way through! This is Lukio's story, and it is amazing! Lukio is alone. Other than his beloved sister, he doesn't think anyone loves him. So he left his foster family, who were Hebrews, to return to the Philistines. Known as Demon Eyes, he is famous for being the greatest fighter in all the land. Life seems to be going fairly well for him. He has the favor of the king, and is promised the hand of his beautiful youngest daughter. And then, Lukio sees one person from his past, the one who was his beloved friend, Shoshana. He is determined he must talk to her and get to know her again. This story is one of love, loss, forgiveness, belonging, and much, much more. Biblical fiction is really not a favorite genre of mine, but there's something about Connilyn Cossette's style of writing that is just absolutely incredible. Fascinating, beyond description, incredible details, and just really bringing to life those days in the Old Testament. This is the kind of story I'd want to see made into a movie. (well, without all the terrible fighting, of course. ;) ) If you enjoy biblical or historical fiction, then you won't want to miss this one! Disclaimer: I receive complimentary books from various sources, including, publishers, publicists, authors, and/or NetGalley. I am not required to write a positive review, and have not received any compensation. The opinions shared here are my own entirely. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255
I usually don’t read much Biblical fiction, but I make an exception for books by Connilyn Cossette, one of my favorite Christian fiction authors. Her impeccable research, richly drawn settings, and colorful, realistic, and multi-layered characters make history come alive. She’s such a masterful author, and I greatly admire the creativity and expertise in her writing. After following Lukio as a child in the first book in the Covenant House duology, To Dwell Among Cedars, I was so excited to read the rest of his story in the conclusion, Between the Wild Branches, and what a stunning conclusion it is! At times gritty and brutal, and at other times tender and heart-touching, this tale takes the reader from Ashdod, a stronghold of the Philistines to Kiryat-Yearim, the residence of Hebrews. Lukio has been a famous Philistine for the past ten years and has amassed riches and a name for himself by becoming a fighter. He’s also spent that time trying to forget the painful memories of his early life and his time with the Hebrews who once adopted him. Despite his hardened appearance and reputation, he opens his heart to some who are downtrodden and in peril. When Shoshana, his friend from his days with the Hebrews reenters his life, they both find themselves in trouble. This is an unforgettable tale of redemption, forgiveness, courage, and God’s divine intervention. It’s also a story of the power of family love, whether by birth or adoption. It’s headed straight for my keeper shelf and onto my list of top reads for the year. I’m looking forward to more fantastic books by this author. I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy from Bethany House Publishers and NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
I adored this book! Connilyn Cossette has written another magnificent story of forgiveness, the price of anger and what ties create a family. It was truly a beautiful read that stayed with me after I’d turned the last page. The city of Ashdod came to life through Cossette’s writing as Lukio and Shoshanna did their best to navigate the brutality and oppressiveness of their situations. This book was everything I could have hoped for and so much more! Cosette is one of my go-tos for Biblical fiction and I cannot recommend her books enough. Don’t miss out on this amazing story! I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
In reading the conclusion to this duology, I was transported to another place and time where I could not only see the vibrant colors and textures in the pictures the author had painted for me, I could taste things like salty olives and honeyed milk on my tongue, and smell the lavender and jasmine as if I were walking through the lush garden settings myself. I could hear the crowds cheering for the champion in the fighting ring, and likewise, witness the Hebrews' struggle and pain. There is a purity in the romantic arc of this story that I feel is unmatched in its intensity. And the chemistry of the characters was so cleverly woven throughout, that the pages turned while the plot thickened, and sometimes it was all I could do to pace myself in order to absorb every word in my eagerness to see how it all unfolded. Lukio and Shoshana's story is one of lost loves and second chances, filled with inspiration and intrigue. Between the Wild Branches just might be one of my favorites of Cossette's so far, the ending bittersweet only in that I was reluctant to leave the world she'd so eloquently brought to life.
Connilyn Cossette is truly the master of biblical fiction! This book was off the charts good. Mind you I have not read the first one but this one can be read as a stand alone as I as was not lost in reading, on the contrary, I was completely submerged and enthralled with this story I could not read it fast enough. That being said I am not saying don't read the first one! As soon as I am all settled with our move cross country I will be purchasing the first book so that I can enjoy it and know more of the characters I was introduced in this one. This story has it all! Suspense, intrigue, and romance but done in such a beautiful way. You can't help but turn the pages and want to know more on secrets and conspiracies happening in the story and within the characters. I was intrigued by the storyline of Lukio who is after all just looking for acceptance. He has lived amongst the Jews although by birth he is technically a Philistine. To me he seemed like a lost sheep trying to find the right home. Soshana is Lukio's childhood sweetheart and has been taken as a slave in the kings palace. The circumstances on how she is taken were hard to read. I mean even though this may be partly fiction you know that these things were actually happening during this time period and it really makes you think and ponder about God's people and how they were mistreated. Sadly not too different from today's world. Lukio and Soshana's romance story was impeccable. The way he basically becomes weak kneed every time he sees her is just amazing to me. His love for her was unconditional and ever flowing. It never stopped. I don't want to give anything away but you will see as you read this that his love for her never went away. She was always in his heart. Although their love story was beautiful one of my favorite things in this story is the way that Lukio realizes who he is in God. He didn't need human approval but only God's. He needed to see himself the way God saw him and that part of this story made this book for me. I really can't say enough great things about this book! I look forward to reading whatever Mrs. Cossette pens next and I hope you do too! I received a copy of this book from the author for review. I was not required to post a positive review. All views expressed are only my honest review.
Wow. Where do I even begin?? After enjoying the first book in the duology, but not LOVING it at the same level I had Connilyn’s previous books, I had really high hopes for book two. And let me tell you, Connilyn managed to surpass all of them! Between the Wild Branches just might rank in my top three fave books of hers so far, and it will certainly be a fave read of 2021! My heart really went out to Lukio in book one, and I loved the threads of his and Shosanna’s relationship that were interwoven there. The ending of book one totally broke my heart and I’ve been dying to know what happened to Lukio after the final chapter. At first, I was upset by the fact that this book picks up TEN YEARS after those heartbreaking events, but once I started reading this book, I realized how perfect of a story choice this was. By the time we see Lukio and Shosanna again, they are very different people, no longer children, but adults who have been through many trials, horrors, and life-changes. This made them even better characters and my heart went out to them even more. Ugh! 😩 I wanted to just wrap them in a big, comforting hug! Especially Lukio!!! ❤️He’s just the BEST sort of fictional hero!! Strong and tough and a bit rough around the edges, but a total teddy bear on the inside, full of compassion and fierce passion for those he loves and those in need. As you can probably tell, this book gave me ALL the feels!!! Conni certainly kept me on the edge of my seat from the first chapter until the very last. Never was there a moment when I felt even slightly bored or like the story had fallen into a lull. Conni truly put her poor characters in quite the pickle of a situation and I had no idea how she was going to get them out of it. Everytime I thought I knew how things could be resolved, she pulled the story in a different direction and kept me guessing. She even nearly gave me a panic attack a couple times! Internally, I was breathing frantically into a paper bag! LOL 😂🙈 The beauty and depth of the message of the story, which fit so perfectly and naturally with the characters’ stories, touched my heart. This is one of those books that you never want to end, but by the time you reach that inevitable conclusion, you feel so full inside. There’s so much else I could probably say about this book, but I’ll end with a few random comments that don’t seem to fit anywhere else: 1.) The scene with the forest mural!!!!! 😭😭😭❤️❤️❤️ Quite possibly my favorite moment in the book! 2.) “We’re bringing him home.” 😭❤️ Another favorite moment that hit me right in the feels, and like the one mentioned above, you’ll just have the book to understand what I mean. 3.) Igo!!! I loved Lukio’s dog, especially since he reminded me of my own “gentle giant” Rambo, who is scared of his own shadow but is fiercely protective and loyal. And lastly… 4.) I think Lukio and Shoshanna are my new favorite couple out of Conni’s books! Their love story is just SO SWEET and it feels so real and raw. You can’t help but root for them every step of the way. As you’ve probably surmised, this is a solid 5/5 Stars for me–I would give it more than 5 if there were such a thing. If you’re a fan of Biblical fiction, or considering giving it a try, do yourself a favor and read this book–but make sure to read book one first, because it would totally ruin everything if you don’t! **I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.**
Between The Wild Branches by Connilyn Cossette Connilyn has done it again with "Between The Wild Branches". I was mesmerized by such a wonderfully written book by Connilyn Cassette. " Between The Wild Branches " is the second book in The Covenant House series. I have to recommend reading "To Dwell Among Cedars" first. I loved returning to the lives of Lukio and Shoshana. It is a book that made me cry in one section and laugh in another. What a page turner, adventurous story. Connilyn knows how to pull you into the storyline from the very beginning draws you back in time. I would highly recommend this book anyone who loves a great story! I received this complimentary copy from the publisher and author for a honest review. All thoughts and opinions are mine and mine alone.
Between Wild Branches was the second book in the series. I wanted to read the book because I like the author. I was pleased to find that I didn’t feel like I was missing pieces not having read the first book. The action and intrigue start from the very first page. So I was hooked immediately which always makes me happy. The love story took a little longer to unfold. Adoption and slavery were themes that were developed n this story as well. I appreciated how Cossette dealt with the complexities of adoption. Being adopted myself, I understood Lukio’s hesitation when it came to his adopted family. I appreciated seeing the unconditional love shown for Lukio by so many and how he is finally able to come to terms with this by the end of the story. Sacrifice is another theme that runs through this book in some surprising ways. The love that Lukio and Shoshanna share is so sweet, but the way they sacrifice for each other can teach the reader a lesson. Once again the Bible comes alive and I will go back and read the first book in this series with joy. My thanks to Netgalley and Bethany House Publishers for the e-copy of this book in exchange for my review.
Once again, Connilyn Cossette delivers a story that enthralls, uplifts and teaches the reader the importance of redemption and forgiveness from a biblical perspective. I love her books! This second book in The Covenant House series focuses on Lukio. He has run away from his adoptive Jewish family back to Philistine territory and made a name for himself, and become quite wealthy. Meanwhile, his childhood sweetheart, Shoshanna, has been held in slavery in the same city for years. When he meets her again, he realizes how much he still loves her, and that begins a series of events that make this book hard to put down. The author has woven such an intricate tale of love, redemption and forgiveness that this story will stay with the reader for a very long time. I highly recommend it! This book was provided courtesy of Bethany House through NetGalley.
You are a wild branch, young man. Do not despise the root to which you've been joined, for it is from this mountain, in the shadow of cedars, that your own deep roots will take their nourishment. And the branches who spring from you will spread wide to shade the helpless and reach heights you cannot imagine. So, do not fear the iron fetters that carry you to the sea, young man, only the ones you bind upon yourself. With rich context and deep spiritual meaning, the Old Testament is seen thru the main characters of Lukio and Shoshana. They grew up together in turbulent times of Israel's history. Being chased by their enemies with the intend of destroying the Ark of the Covenant. Both Shoshana and Lukio had to overcome a childhood of abuse and rejection. The beginning of the book laid the foundation of their relationship and how that they were separated for 10 years until they meet again at the King's palace. Both at different stations in life. One is a servant and one is a famed for their entertainment. The spiritual lesson is slavery and the forms it comes in. For each of them it is battle and a battle that they both fight for. It takes courage and Lukio and Shoshana courage was rooted in love. It was a slow revelation that kept me at the edge of my seat for many different reasons. One being, we are all in this battle and we all need courage. Their story is not preachy but in the same way Jesus taught in parables, it reveals truth that our hearts can accept and we reason the outcomes. You are drawn to the Lord without even being aware of it. So good and I highly recommend. A special thank you to Bethany House Publishers and Netgalley for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review.
I couldn’t wait to read this book once I had it on my kindle! I greatly enjoyed To Dwell among Cedars earlier this year, and now to hear Lukio’s side of the story…it was just as gripping, if not more so, than the first book! I felt like I could relate well to Lukio. Underneath the bravado he displayed was a man who really just wanted to belong somewhere. And when he was faced with difficulty, the side of kindness he tried to hide showed itself. The greatest part about this book, besides the strong redemptive thread, was the history. Cossette does an amazing job bringing you into a place and helping you to see it as it may have been years ago. More than ever before, I got to see just why the Lord told the Hebrews NOT to mix with those around them—the other religions around them were cruel! That wasn’t a major part of this story, but it came through. This book wasn’t quite as deep as some of Cossette’s others, but I’m glad I got to read it. Recommended. I was given a review copy of this book, and this is my honest opinion of it.
I really enjoyed this book. I thought this was a great Biblical fiction. I loved how both books in the series connected. I loved seeing how people grew and changed. I liked seeing Lukio discovery what is most important and to choose his real family. I liked seeing how the Lord worked in his life to bring him home to the people who really cared for him. This book was very well done. 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.
Another amazing story by an amazing author! Connilyn Cossette is one of my favorite author. Her stories have a way of grabbing the readers attention and not letting go. She has incredible talent and bring biblical times to life in an unique and very special way. This sequel about Lukio and Shoshana didn't disappoint. I always love catching with characters introduced in previous books and learning more about "what happened afterwards". In the book, we fing Lukio back in Ashdod after he fled Hebrew territory. He is now a renowned fighter, but what he doesn't know is that his childhood love interest also finds herself in Ashdod under much different circumstances. If you want to know what happens to the characters and how their reunion unfolds, I recommend you pick up a copy of this book.
Between the Wild Branches is the second in a Biblical fiction duology, and the first series I've read by the author. And I loved it and barely wanted to put it down once I started reading! I'd been hesitant to really dig into Biblical fiction because it felt like a genre that could sour quickly if someone misinterpreted (whether knowingly or unknowingly) the Word of God. But after just a few pages of the first in the series, I felt like I could trust this author to give insight into Biblical times. And while I really enjoyed To Dwell Among Cedars, Between the Wild Branches was such a page-turner that I was wholly enthralled with the story of Lukio and Shoshana! The romantic tension is strong yet respectful and appropriate. Learning more about the lifestyle of the Philistines and the brutal atrocities they were involved in made my heart hurt. But that was certainly necessary to be accurate. This novel made me cheer and hope and want to study more in the Old Testament about the struggle between the Philistines and the Israelites. And ultimately it reminded me of the unmatched power of the One True God. I'll certainly be reading more by Connilyn Cossette too! *I received an e-copy of the book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
I have been looking forward to the continuation of Lukio's story. By the end of the last book, his life to him seemed to have fallen apart. So he leaves and goes back to his Philistine cousin and to that lifestyle, which is not how his adoptive family raised him. I will tell you one thing, author Cossette does not go easy with her characters or the reader's feelings. Wow. Lukio and Shoshana have been through a lot. Especially Shoshana. Her bravery and her love for her children was outstanding. Poor Lukio, he has always loved her. And my heart broke when he found out about her past and what happened to her. He was not there to protect her. He ran away. But as Lukio learns, he can not run from the teachings of the one true God that his adoptive Hebrew family instilled in him. And no matter what he has done, he cannot ever do more then God's mercy and forgiveness can cover. He is a God of second chances. I enjoyed this series as we get the contrast of what life looked like in an Israel countryside and a very busy Philistine city full of all manner of evil and vices. The rescue work of those working undercover to save Israel's most vulnerable is relevant even today. This author's stories have taught me so much about Biblical times and what living through that time might have looked like. 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.