Jewish teenager Jacob Weisz’s parents are in denial about Hitler’s murderous plans, and even the death of his sister during Kristallnacht can’t shake them into reality. His Uncle Avi, however, has connections to the Jewish underground resistance, and Jacob soon joins him in his work. When Jacob eventually ends up in Auschwitz, his underground connections pay off as he joins other men seeking to escape and warn the world—especially Hungarian Jews slated to arrive soon—about the death camp. Based on the real-life escapes of four men from the camp in 1944, Rosenberg’s story is filled with action and enriched by Jacob’s journey of faith—but it minimizes Jesus.
Food critic and former restaurateur Juliette is surrounded by a boisterous extended Italian family, as well as supportive co-workers at her newspaper job in Portland. Yet as the story opens, she feels deeply alone. A single woman in her 30s who is grappling with the loss of her beloved grandmother, Jules hungers for a deeper connection—and tries an online dating service. That decision, along with her brother’s invitation to start a new restaurant, eventually forces her to choose: fulfill her lifelong dream of owning a restaurant, or marry a man she loves. Heirloom recipes, a sweet romance, and a mystery from her grandmother’s past add spice along the way.
When rare coin dealer Bryce Bishop closes his Chicago shop one night, a woman approaches him and offers hundreds of rare coins below cost. After luring him in with this “chum,” Charlotte offers him one of the largest caches of rare coins in history. Though she and Bryce quickly develop a strong emotional connection, her difficult past—including a kidnapping she refuses to talk about—keeps him at a distance. The romance here is largely fantasy, with Bryce going well beyond what is advisable (or probable) in his bid to win Charlotte, but well-developed characters, thoughtful apologetics, and an unfolding mystery related to her captors add interest.
With ambulance sirens blaring overhead, Kate struggles to remember how she got the searing pain in her side. An EMT explains she’s been in a car accident, and suddenly Kate realizes her decision to return to the cleaners to retrieve a copy of Psalm 23 from her son’s jacket has led her to this moment. She pleads with God to make her life count, and in answer to that prayer, her handwritten copy of Psalm 23—the Shepherd song—soon gains a life of its own. Authors Duffey and Myers trace the impact of the psalm, line by line, as it makes its way through 12 lives around the world. The book’s structure at times feels forced, but its truths are rich.
This February the Fifty Shades trilogy by E.L. James hit a milestone: 100 million copies sold worldwide. In contrast to secular and Christian counselors who claim erotica may be beneficial for frustrated singles and ho-hum marriages, authors Juli Slattery and Dannah Gresh clearly detail a woman’s God-created longings, as well as how series like Fifty Shades pervert and distort these longings, leaving a trail of carnage behind. In Pulling Back the Shades: Erotica, Intimacy, and the Longings of a Woman’s Heart (Moody, 2014), they argue that the answer isn’t to demonize desire but to celebrate sexuality in its proper context—imperfect, relationship-based, sanctifying marriage. And when that isn’t possible, we should turn to God, the “Living Water” who can “satisfy every thirst.”
Caution: This isn’t a book for young readers, as it describes sexual activity in detail. But with a film version of Fifty Shades of Grey scheduled to hit theaters in early 2015, Pulling Back the Shades is only likely to grow in importance. —E.W.