Swazi Sunrise by Donna Chapman Gilbert

Title: Swazi Sunrise

Author: Donna Chapman Gilbert

Genre: Christian Nonfiction/Biography (missionaries)

Era: early 1900s (1907 through the early 1920s)

Setting: New York, then Africa

Publisher: Donna Chapman Gilbert

Source: from author (in exchange for honest review)

Overall Rating: 4/5 stars

Swazi Sunrise by Donna Chapman Gilbert

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19-year-old Lula is bookish and shy. She longs for a husband and children of her own, but gives up that dream to become a missionary. Lula never imagined the life of hair-raising adventure that awaits her. Nor does she expect to meet the most thrilling adventure of all in the form of a handsome young preacher.

Harmon leaves his home in Ohio with only goal in mind—converting Africans to Christ. No one is going to stand in his way. Not even a little brown-eyed slip of a girl with a sweet smile.

Young Emely lives in fear of the snake spirits and the witchdoctor who summons them. Then she encounters a pale man who tells her she can be free from fear. Will she find the courage to defy the witchdoctor and grab hold of that freedom?

Kosa loses his standing as a Swazi prince due to the conniving of his hateful younger brother. To regain his honor and his father’s respect, he trains hard to become a renowned fighter. But he discovers that fame and fortune do nothing to bring peace to his tortured soul.

Swazi Sunrise is a safari ride into early 20th century Africa. Its vivid depiction of life in Swaziland and the trials and triumphs of pioneer missionaries makes for a highly satisfying read.

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Only Children Chase Sawdust by Willowy Whisper

Title: Only Children Chase Sawdust

Author: Willowy Whisper

Genre: Christian Historical Adventure

Era: Pioneer-era (maybe early 1800s? Mid-1800s?)

Setting: United States

Publisher: Willowy Whisper

Source: from author (in exchange for honest review)

Overall Rating: 4/5

Only Children Chase Sawdust by Willowy Whisper

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Their whole life turned to sawdust and blew away . . .

Please don’t leave me, Jacob. I need you. I know you’re grieving. Maybe we all are. But you’re chasing something you’ll never catch . . . and we both know you won’t come back alive.

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I wasn’t sure what to think of this novel when I first began it. The author doesn’t really even offer us a synopsis to go off of! However, I read it in an afternoon. It wasn’t the best story I’ve ever read, but it was really good.

Plot: 4.5/5

This is the tale of a young couple who must recover from an Indian massacre during which most of their loved ones were killed. Jacob, the husband, leaves Annie in the care of some military men to go preach salvation to the Indians.

The plot does seem to rush or slow down unnecessarily in a couple places, but I really did enjoy it. It was both sweet and heartbreaking. There were times when I was close to tears, which is rare for me.

Characters: 4.5/5

Jacob: I was really skeptical of his choices from start to end. I knew it was the right thing to do, but like Annie, I just wanted him to stay!

Annie: *breaks out the tissues and comfort food* My heart is broken. I may never recover. *sobs* Also, Annie and Jacob were so cute together. Just sayin’.

Akando: his development happened too fast, but he was a great character nonetheless. I just wish a little more time could have been spent on his development.

Obadiah Clark: oooh, I could kill this man! I really wish I could. Except that would be wrong. But he’s a fictional character, so … *considers the jail fines for killing a fictional character* *realizes I have killed several fictional characters* *shrugs*

There were several other characters, but I won’t mention them because I don’t want to write an overwhelmingly long review. They all seemed well-developed to me, however.

Setting: 3/5

This is the real failing-place of the book, in my opinion. There just wasn’t enough focus on where we were. It made no impression on my brain if the time or place were ever mentioned.

It might have been nice to see dates at the beginning of the chapter or something similar. Just so my mind would know where it was supposed to be.

Writing: 5/5

I really enjoy Willowy Whisper’s writing style, and this was no exception.

Theme: 4/5

I really did enjoy the themes of forgiveness and spreading the Good News (even to your enemies), but occasionally it seemed like the Christian content was a little bit forced. Still, great themes. I wish I was as brave as Jacob!

Content: 3/5

Language: n/a

Violence: a massacre and Indian torture methods are described in some details,  people die or almost die, murder (apart from the massacre) is attempted

Sexual: kisses between a married couple, mentions of pregnancy and childbirth (few to no details), a man pushes himself on a woman repeatedly (not as in rape or anything like that, but as in persistent courtship which is almost inappropriate)

Also some drunkenness, few details. Rated PG-13 for violence.

Overall: 4/5

This is a great book, and I’d recommend it to any lover of Christian historical adventures. There were a few short-comings, but they weren’t overwhelming and in no way detracted from my enjoyment of the story.

~Kellyn Roth~

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