Where We Belong
The Adventure of a Lifetime for Two Indomitable Socialite Sisters In the city of Chicago in 1892, the rules for Victorian women are strict, their roles limited. But sisters Rebecca and Flora Hawes are not typical Victorian ladies. Their love of adventure and their desire to use their God-given talents has brought them to the Sinai Desert--and into a sandstorm.Accompanied by Soren Petersen, their somber young butler, and Kate Rafferty, a street urchin who is learning to be their ladies' maid, the two women are on a quest to find an important biblical manuscript. As the journey becomes more dangerous and uncertain, the four travelers sift through memories of their past, recalling the events that shaped them and the circumstances that brought them to this time and place.

Where We Belong Details

TitleWhere We Belong
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseOct 3rd, 2017
PublisherBethany House Publishers
ISBN-139780764217623
Rating
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction, Fiction, Christian, Christian Historical Fiction

Where We Belong Review

  • Ruth
    January 1, 1970
    This should have been one of my favorite reads of recent memory, if not the year. This book had everything going for it -- unconventional female characters, a fascinating concept, world travel --not to mention the name of one of my long-time favorite authors on its gorgeous cover. However, none of that could save a novel whose execution falls so terribly flat. Where We Belong reads like it was published decades ago, an unpolished draft, completely lacking the spark, life, and engagement I've exp This should have been one of my favorite reads of recent memory, if not the year. This book had everything going for it -- unconventional female characters, a fascinating concept, world travel --not to mention the name of one of my long-time favorite authors on its gorgeous cover. However, none of that could save a novel whose execution falls so terribly flat. Where We Belong reads like it was published decades ago, an unpolished draft, completely lacking the spark, life, and engagement I've experienced previously with Austin's work. This is the most passive, sluggishly paced book I've read in ages. Easily 80% of it or more takes place in flashback. All the flashbacks! WHAT IS THE POINT?! We are given these society sisters thrust into entirely atypical circumstances, and rather than journeying with them to the Sinai desert we get to experience the black and white reel of their reminiscences regarding the experiences that brought them to their present point. It is such a flat way of telling what could otherwise be an engaging, globe-spanning story, marrying the sisters' faith with their exotic travels and love of adventure. Because we experience the Rebecca and Flora's formative experiences through the lens of memory, rather than actively witnessing their journeys, they become flat, static caricatures of the dynamic, rule-defying women they could have -- should have -- been. What Austin gets right is that fiction (especially CBA) needs more stories featuring women who do not proscribe to traditional societal roles, more women bringing the perspective that comes with maturity to stories of their lives and loves. Rebecca and Flora have immense possibility, but cardboard-cutout characterization within these pages wastes much of that potential. Rebecca is a maddening character. An intellectual with a love of history and adventure? I should have adored her. But I could not get past how immature and selfish she consistently comes across as in her memories. She never really grows (unless you count growing into an ability to sermonize) into as compelling a character as she should be. And while Flora comes across as less selfish, she's no less frustrating for the fact that she is more often than not a doormat to her more outgoing sister's single-minded pursuit of adventure. Why two stars instead of one? To be frank, my long-time love of Austin's work makes this review extraordinarily difficult to write. And I cannot simply dismiss a book like Where We Belong for failing to live up to its potential without acknowledging that at least, concept-wise, it tried. Also, though the characters of Kate and Soren were woefully under-used, compared to the sisters' characterization they were a breath of fresh air (at least, their backstories were, lol). Where this novel shines is in its sense of history. As per usual, Austin's dedication to research shines. The tragedy here is that the story and characters had no room to breathe and grow, sandwiched between the research and heavy-handed sermonizing. The message is, of course, on point -- but rather than let the message express itself through the characters, much like the sisters' backstory, we are told everything and why it is correct or important...instead of being allowed to emotionally, organically connect with author's intent. While Where We Belong was not for me, Austin's work as a whole will always hold a special place in my heart. (And let's be real, this cover is gorgeous!)
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  • Karen
    January 1, 1970
    An inspiring historical tale based in part on the lives of two remarkable real-life sisters whose courage and faith led them to follow their dreams against societal norms, and make an amazing discovery that rocked the world. The story begins in 1890 while the pair are on a difficult trek to an ancient monastery in the Sinai Desert. Told in retrospect, a clear picture emerges of each character and how they all ended up on this dangerous journey together.This well-written novel kept me interested An inspiring historical tale based in part on the lives of two remarkable real-life sisters whose courage and faith led them to follow their dreams against societal norms, and make an amazing discovery that rocked the world. The story begins in 1890 while the pair are on a difficult trek to an ancient monastery in the Sinai Desert. Told in retrospect, a clear picture emerges of each character and how they all ended up on this dangerous journey together.This well-written novel kept me interested all the way to the end, and had me thinking about it constantly. I really enjoyed getting to know these wonderful, intelligent, caring, nonconformist sisters as they bravely traveled the world and faced challenges together. I especially liked no-nonsense Rebecca, with her strong sense of God’s leading in her life, and her faith that gave her the courage to follow her dreams despite any opposition. Their father’s saying is often quoted as they encourage each other through trials: “The Lord knows the number of our days. We don’t have to be afraid.” They are fiercely loyal to each other, encouraging and supportive, loving sacrificially at times. Rebecca and Flora grow in faith and are great examples, reaching out to help others with compassion. They show real faith in action, wanting others to see that God is loving and personal, full of grace and truth, and that He has created us all uniquely for a purpose. Flora's tender heart for the poor children of Chicago, starting Sunday Schools and an orphan's home, reminded me of my own dear grandma, who helped her father start a neighborhood Sunday School. There are some great examples of redemption in this story, shown well through characters who doubt their worth because of their past, or who need a large dose of faith to overcome their skepticism. Highly recommend this book to readers who enjoy historical Christian fiction with inspiration and some adventure. It is one that will stay with you and make you think even when the last page is turned. A very satisfying read!(A book was provided by the author and publisher for review purposes. All opinions are my own.)
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  • Sarah Monzon
    January 1, 1970
    I picked up this book for one reason--Lynn Austin! I'm a big fan of her books. Wonderland Creek is my jam. A Woman's Place, epic. I could go on and on.Where We Belong starts in the late 1880's (90's? One of those...) and that is the "present day". Here we are introduced to Rebekah, Flora, Peterson, and Kate. Each character takes turns recounting their lives and how they got to where they are.The goal, motivation, and conflict...three elements essential to fiction, are relegated to only the "pres I picked up this book for one reason--Lynn Austin! I'm a big fan of her books. Wonderland Creek is my jam. A Woman's Place, epic. I could go on and on.Where We Belong starts in the late 1880's (90's? One of those...) and that is the "present day". Here we are introduced to Rebekah, Flora, Peterson, and Kate. Each character takes turns recounting their lives and how they got to where they are.The goal, motivation, and conflict...three elements essential to fiction, are relegated to only the "present" day scenes, which are the minority of scenes, by the way. Because of this, I found the book read more as a fictional memoir than anything else.I loved the uniqueness of the setting, part of the book taking place in the Middle East, and the indomitable spirits of the two sisters.Lynn Austin is a talented writer and I could never find fault in her craft, but the style of the book was not exactly my favorite.
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  • Amanda Tero
    January 1, 1970
    I’m learning Austin’s style. Her books are the nice, long ones that are perfect for cold weather, warm blankets, and mugs of hot drinks. They aren’t really the type that keep me up all hours of the night in intense curiosity, but they’re just those good stories. The writer in me wishes they were a little more actively told than passively told, but like I said, if you just want a long, cozy read, this fits the bill perfectly.In short, this book could be summed up in: two sisters’ yearn for advent I’m learning Austin’s style. Her books are the nice, long ones that are perfect for cold weather, warm blankets, and mugs of hot drinks. They aren’t really the type that keep me up all hours of the night in intense curiosity, but they’re just those good stories. The writer in me wishes they were a little more actively told than passively told, but like I said, if you just want a long, cozy read, this fits the bill perfectly.In short, this book could be summed up in: two sisters’ yearn for adventure wherever they can find it, and often when they go on adventures, find another piece to themselves. It sometimes felt like there wasn’t really a main plot, but just story after story of their adventures. It all wrapped up nicely in the end, but I’m still trying to figure out the main plot. Part of that may be because this story spanned pretty much forty years (which was quite cool).Okay, so enough opinions and meandering thoughts. Each character had a very interesting story (there were five parts: Rebecca, Flora, Petersen, Kate, and Rebecca again). In their own way, they each found their place, where they belonged. That element of story was SO neat. I was never bored with the story. I loved the sisters. At first, they did kind of strike me as spoiled brats—they basically got anything they wanted, they were just unconventional and because their dad liked that, he went along with it. Obviously, as they got older, they improved.Soren! Just have to say... His part was probably my favorite! I like a character that is genuine in his actions and wow... just a great, sweet character overall. I almost wish he had his own book, as his story sparked my interest greatest.The spiritual content in this was throughout every chapter. God was definitely a PART of this book, which I absolutely loved. Plus, there was a professor who then began debating Rebecca about creation vs. evolution and whether or not the Bible is true. I like logical things like that, so it enticed me greatly.The romance was surprisingly little for an Austin book. At the same time, I held my breath for Kate’s part. Sure enough, she had been kidnapped and brought into a very bad situation. Nothing immoral is clearly portrayed, just suggested. For that reason alone, I don’t recommend this to younger readers (basically, if it wasn’t for that part, I would have handed this to my teen sisters to read).After finishing this book, it’s one that I’m finding myself basking in for a little. There were a lot of neat elements and I enjoyed the book.*I received this book from Bethany House and happily provided my honest review*
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  • Megan
    January 1, 1970
    What an epic adventure! Lynn Austin is a new author to me, but I will be looking up her other books after reading "Where We Belong". If you like adventure, travel, strong female characters, and deep spiritual content, you will like "Where We Belong"!This book is broken up into sections. Each section is told from a different character's perspective. Ms. Austin has great characters. It truly is an epic story, following the character's lives from when they are young to middle-aged. I especially lik What an epic adventure! Lynn Austin is a new author to me, but I will be looking up her other books after reading "Where We Belong". If you like adventure, travel, strong female characters, and deep spiritual content, you will like "Where We Belong"!This book is broken up into sections. Each section is told from a different character's perspective. Ms. Austin has great characters. It truly is an epic story, following the character's lives from when they are young to middle-aged. I especially liked reading from the middle-aged perspectives, as that is not often an age that is covered in this genre. Because the book is broken into sections, it took me awhile to mentally change to the next character's perspective. This also felt a bit abrupt at times. But once I was able to make the change, I really enjoyed reading from so many different viewpoints.One of our main characters, Rebecca, is a special favorite, as she doesn't care what others think, and has a strong faith. She doesn't worry about her life or safety, but trusts God with her future. She also loves reading, adventure and traveling. Rebecca (Becky) and her sister, Flora, do unconventional things in the Victorian era, like traveling across a desert with only a young butler as an escort. They have so many escapades–such as haggling in Arabic at a market, skipping school to have an adventure, and exercising in bloomers. Travel and adventure lovers will find kindred spirits in Flora and Becky with their free spirits, wanderlust and adventures around the world. This story takes readers all over the world. The descriptions of the settings are amazing! I felt the sand blowing against the tent as I was transported to the Sinai desert. This is one of those books where you settle down and really immerse yourself in the story. It's not a quick read, but it is so rich and fulfilling. "Where We Belong" has themes of trusting God, finding one’s purpose and God's plan for our life. This book is just so well written. I would put this author up there with Liz Curtis Higgs and Francine Rivers.Content: This is a clean read. I would give it a PG rating due to a bit of content. It is a little graphic when describing the tenements in a poor area. There is talk of a man's harem. One man almost says the word for an illegitimate child. There is talk of a man getting drunk and beating a character. A man tries to grab a girl. There is a scene where a girl gets forced into a brothel. There is a lot of content which alludes to the activities in a brothel. Rating: I give this book 5 stars.Genre: Christian Historical Fiction; Victorian; AdventureI want to thank Lynn Austin and Bethany House Publishers for the complimentary copy of this book for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I express in this review are my own. This is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR 16, Part 255.
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  • Cathy Daniel
    January 1, 1970
    I loved this book!!! I really enjoyed the intelligent, spunky sisters and their adventures. Life didn't begin and end on having a man. They had their own purpose in Christ. There were a couple of chapters I felt could have been omitted (I liked the sisters POV in alternating sections but towards the end other characters got their chapters and I thought that was a bit much) I considered 4 stars when it dragged just a little bit towards the end but the ending was SO PERFECT! It's so good to read a I loved this book!!! I really enjoyed the intelligent, spunky sisters and their adventures. Life didn't begin and end on having a man. They had their own purpose in Christ. There were a couple of chapters I felt could have been omitted (I liked the sisters POV in alternating sections but towards the end other characters got their chapters and I thought that was a bit much) I considered 4 stars when it dragged just a little bit towards the end but the ending was SO PERFECT! It's so good to read about women in Christian fiction with full, happy lives and married late in life. I wanted to give a SHOUT! I enjoyed this very much! And now I want to ride a camel and visit pyramids :)
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  • Rachel McMillan
    January 1, 1970
    so here's the deal everyone. and settle in. i never JUST read a lynn austin book (the first time -- i mean i will read proper pursuit every other thursday for the rest of time). but that first read i save for when i am in the right headspace because it will speak to me where i am at. i don't know how it happens but every time i read her it matches the moment in my life when i need it the most. you don't waste that experience.it is just the most transcendentally wonderful thing.so i had nine hour so here's the deal everyone. and settle in. i never JUST read a lynn austin book (the first time -- i mean i will read proper pursuit every other thursday for the rest of time). but that first read i save for when i am in the right headspace because it will speak to me where i am at. i don't know how it happens but every time i read her it matches the moment in my life when i need it the most. you don't waste that experience.it is just the most transcendentally wonderful thing.so i had nine hours on a plane after a brave trip where i spent hours wandering around a city linked to a book that formed my imagination. wandering, extremely vulnerable wondering where i am at at this point in my life. what am i doing w my passions. am i doing enough ? there's something about a week in near silence on a trip alone where you start going to these mental places.doing something brave and scary and feeling self conscious and texting allison second guessing everythingand so on the plane back i read lynn austin--- as per friggin always--- lshe hit me right like a punch in the friggin gut but at the same time also a balm?i read "where we belong" and it touched my heart and my psyche in a way that only lynn austin books do. and i don't know WHY she is that author for me but it's like she speaks so acutely and directly to where i am at i end up losing my breath.i sat on the plane home from brussels reading and sobbing and laughing and being pummelled looking at myself in the mirror. for becky in Where we Belong is one part of my heart. my heart dropped every time she expressed how i feel, what i wrestle with, my yearnings and triumphs and insecuritiesi have never felt more myself and rarely so safe in the pages of a book. AND IT HAPPENS EVERY TIME! but this one -- oh this one about an unconventional woman who wants adventure and travel and study and thinks that both can be divinely inspired the same way work in charity or church can. this book that blesses and advocates history and academia as part of the greater interconnection of faiththis book that asserts that if you just step back you can see every last of the creator's interwoven threads in the tapestry of your life......we all meet faith in different ways. my anxiety and history makes it difficult for me to work with a church setting in a conventional way. so i find it in stained glass in old cities, in music and the written word. and this was just every last rejuvinating note of acceptance i needed.Lynn Austin makes faith an adventure. an exciting breathless quest that is at terms searching and picaresque. a grab your gear and go story. she works through soft questions in tantalizing descriptions and settings and moments of unexpected heart and humour. and she never JUST PAINTS one view of woman. i am rebecca in this book. i sincerely believe a lot of my friends would find themselves floras.it is this world these perfect imperfections that really really hit me where i needed it."every trip we have taken and each escape we've had has helped us find another piece of the puzzle of our lives""Ever since Edmund told us about his book. I've been looking back on my life, all I've struggled with and I can see all of those things converging in this project and God's hand directing it."and it is the book she signed for me (not that i brought that copy) but it makes so much sense that the dream to have a signed lynn austin book would manifest itself in this one--- about two unconventional women, one of whom she must have crept into my mind and heart to write.
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  • Chloe (aka Crystal)
    January 1, 1970
    Previously published on Purely by Faith Reviews.My Review:Okay, so this is my first time reading a book by Lynn Austin and it was the best historical fiction I’ve ever read! I’ll admit it did take me a few chapters to fully get into it, but when I did….. I just had to keep going.I found Rebecca and Flora so easy to connect with on different levels. Lynn did a great job of giving them distinctive personalities, because I personally don’t see that done well in a lot of books today. Rebecca’s love Previously published on Purely by Faith Reviews.My Review:Okay, so this is my first time reading a book by Lynn Austin and it was the best historical fiction I’ve ever read! I’ll admit it did take me a few chapters to fully get into it, but when I did….. I just had to keep going.I found Rebecca and Flora so easy to connect with on different levels. Lynn did a great job of giving them distinctive personalities, because I personally don’t see that done well in a lot of books today. Rebecca’s love for history reminded me of my love for Roman history. Flora’s sensitivity and love towards orphans reminded me of my sensitivity for the homeless/abused. I do wish Flora’s husband, Edmund, had been in the story more towards the end…. but I’m glad everything turned out well.Soren was probably my favorite character because his past pulled me in. I’m sure multiple knives went through my heart as I read his sad parts, which I will not spoil here. I’m so glad how things turned out for him. ❤Kate, on the other hand, just drove me crazy! Perhaps it was just her personality, but I didn’t not find how defiant and outspoken she was very intriguing. It turned me off. Later, when I read about her past, it made more sense for her behavior…. although she still isn’t my favorite.The story was super interesting and I was drawn in, like I said, after a few chapters. I’ll admit it did take me most of the month of November to finish the book, but that shows me that Lynn Austin’s books are good for cozy reads under a nice warm blanket during cold weather. I really liked how the back-stories and the main story were weaved in together. It made for a nice read! 🙂On a side note, I think this book would be better for the mid-teens because Kate does have a rough past (one that isn’t exactly appropriate for younger readers) and there are mentions of death throughout the book.Content Warnings:Semi-detailed romance (mentions of female character desiring a male partner beside her, kisses, courtship, etc); very little violence; a word that is used in a bad way today was not a bad word during the time period in this bookI received this book for Bethany House (thanks so much! I enjoyed the book 🙂 ) in exchange for an honest review. I was not obliged to give a positive one.This review was written in my own words and opinions.
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  • Christy
    January 1, 1970
    I didn't find the satisfaction in this book liked I had hoped to but it was still a pleasant read. It's a little long for my taste; I find a story has withered by page 350; and this far exceeds that. Rebecca and Flora travel for a good portion through-out this story and it's told mostly when they are in their early twenties. I enjoyed reading it more when they were older at certain points in the book. It's heavy handed with flashbacks but basically a story about two sisters who find complete and I didn't find the satisfaction in this book liked I had hoped to but it was still a pleasant read. It's a little long for my taste; I find a story has withered by page 350; and this far exceeds that. Rebecca and Flora travel for a good portion through-out this story and it's told mostly when they are in their early twenties. I enjoyed reading it more when they were older at certain points in the book. It's heavy handed with flashbacks but basically a story about two sisters who find complete and utter joy in each other and traveling and the ever present romance exists to.
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  • Kav
    January 1, 1970
    An epic tale about two invincible sisters who refuse to be confined by societal expectations. And while a work of fiction Where We Belong reads more like a memoir since it is a collection of memories. In fact, the largest portion of these 470 pages is spent in past decades -- and told from the point of view of four different characters whose stories all interconnect -- the sisters, Rebecca and Flora and their two charges, Kate and Soren.The story begins with a trek across the Sinai Desert in 189 An epic tale about two invincible sisters who refuse to be confined by societal expectations. And while a work of fiction Where We Belong reads more like a memoir since it is a collection of memories. In fact, the largest portion of these 470 pages is spent in past decades -- and told from the point of view of four different characters whose stories all interconnect -- the sisters, Rebecca and Flora and their two charges, Kate and Soren.The story begins with a trek across the Sinai Desert in 1890. These forty-something sisters have led rich, colourful and unorthodox lives and the holy quest they are on provides them with time to reflect on the past decades that have led them to this point. The sisters compliment each other beautifully --- Rebecca is brash and fearless while Flora is more thoughtful and cautious. And both sisters live their faith deeply. Their love of Jesus shines in everything they do. They are true disciples, acting as the hands and feet of Christ to all those around them. A truly inspiring and fascinating story.Book provided courtesy of Baker Publications and Graf-Martin Publications.
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  • Alicia Ruggieri
    January 1, 1970
    Review available here: http://www.aliciagruggieri.com/where-...
  • Raechel
    January 1, 1970
    This was my first Lynn Austin book, and I can gladly say that I enjoyed her writing. It was thorough, and pleasant.It was delightful to follow the sisters, Rebecca and Flora, on their great many adventures, and their center goal always being the Lord. I also loved their saying, “The Lord knows our end”, because that’s true. He’s got us in the palm of His hand, and our days are ordered by Him.Both sisters were very unique, and different from each other, yet shared such a strong bond. I did actual This was my first Lynn Austin book, and I can gladly say that I enjoyed her writing. It was thorough, and pleasant.It was delightful to follow the sisters, Rebecca and Flora, on their great many adventures, and their center goal always being the Lord. I also loved their saying, “The Lord knows our end”, because that’s true. He’s got us in the palm of His hand, and our days are ordered by Him.Both sisters were very unique, and different from each other, yet shared such a strong bond. I did actually like having different parts of the story told from the various array of characters, starting with Rebecca, continuing on with Flora, then Soren, and then Kate, and ending with Rebecca again. It all tied together nicely.This wasn’t an “on the edge of your seat” read – this was more so a “take it slow” read. It wasn’t packed with action, but neither was it boring. As I said, I enjoyed their journeys, and just their lives.I really enjoyed the character, Soren. His story was good, and real, and sad. I’m so glad he got his own ‘happy ending’ in a way. That was sweet.It certainly was a long book, but I didn’t find that tiresome as I might in other cases. I also didn’t see much that could’ve been left out. It was a sound story, and their finds on their adventures were exciting! Even more fun was reading the author’s note and finding that it was based on a true story – very neat.If you like historical fiction, I definitely recommend this one.
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  • Brenda
    January 1, 1970
    I was introduced to Lynn Austin's books this past summer when Lynn was a featured speaker at a local Public Library event. Lynn was invited to talk about her latest book (at that time), Waves of Mercy. Waves of Mercy is set in my hometown, Holland Michigan, where Lynn also lives (I have since discovered she is right around the corner from me!). I have been searching for and buying more of Lynn's books in the months since then and was eagerly looking forward to her newest release, Where We Belong I was introduced to Lynn Austin's books this past summer when Lynn was a featured speaker at a local Public Library event. Lynn was invited to talk about her latest book (at that time), Waves of Mercy. Waves of Mercy is set in my hometown, Holland Michigan, where Lynn also lives (I have since discovered she is right around the corner from me!). I have been searching for and buying more of Lynn's books in the months since then and was eagerly looking forward to her newest release, Where We Belong. When the opportunity came along to apply to be a part of the Lynn Austin Where We Belong Launch Team, of course I applied and kept my fingers crossed! When I received word that I was going to be a member of the team, I was thrilled beyond words! So...A huge Thank you to Lynn Austin, the Lynn Austin Where We Belong Launch Team, and Bethany house Books for providing me with a free copy of Where We Belong in exchange for my honest review. (and for all the new "friends" I feel we have all made as members of this team!)Where We Belong review: Sisters Flora and Rebecca, left motherless as small girls, are being raised as independent (in thoughts and actions) and well educated young ladies by their intelligent, wealthy, loving father in Chicago in the late 1800's. The sisters are much devoted to each other and to their father and both girls share a love of adventure although Rebecca is the "instigator." Flora has a big heart and is a people pleaser and Rebecca is a bit of a Victorian Era rebel not wishing to conform to societies expectations of what young ladies of the time should be and instead being true to herself. Both girls firmly believe that "To whom much has been given, much will be required." The book is told in "parts" focusing on the main characters of Flora, Rebecca, Peterson, and Kate, and goes back and forth from present to past as Lynn effortlessly (although I'm sure is was anything but effortless for Lynn to write it this way but, it flows effortlessly for the reader) weaves a story that keeps readers moving forward and always anxiously anticipating more! The story begins in the Sinai Desert where the girls are traveling with their young butler and lady's maid in search of an ancient biblical manuscript. The story ends with the culmination of the adventure in the desert and what happens shortly after they return home to Chicago. A book of Faith and history with a dash of romance and oodles of adventure mixed with a bit of spunk without feeling sappy or "preachy." Each adventure along their journey brings the girls to discover just "Where they belong" at that particular time and shows how their Faith plays such a primary role in this. Certain historical events in this book, such as the Chicago Fire, were particularly compelling for me to read; I could almost imagine being there (and I then dreamed about the fire that night) as Lynn painted such an amazing word picture/story with her writing! I really identified with Rebecca and was not so silently cheering her on on more than one occasion in the book!Where We Belong really spoke to me on a personal level; having been married most of my adult life and then widowed several years ago, I feel as though I have been on a journey to "where I (now)belong." I have always looked for the signs, the messages, and my daily Prayer is "Open my eyes to the possibilities you put before me, show me where you want me to go, and give me the courage to follow." This books emphasized that message for me!In conclusion, the only "negative" thing I can say about this book is that I (personally) felt as though the ending was a bit rushed (in comparison to the rest of the book) but the book and story was so good, so masterfully told, that it more than made up for this and I still gave it 5 stars! I can't wait to continue my quest to read more of Lynn's books (4 await me on the TRB stack)!!!Happy reading!
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  • Fizzy
    January 1, 1970
    I just cannot write this review. Sorry. Can't do it. When I first started actually reading this book my Kindle told me that it would take about 7 hours to finish. Lovely, right? I mean here it was Monday evening and I was getting ready to start my week at The Day Job (I work Tuesday through Saturday). Reading time through the week is hard to come by and tends to happen in spurts and fits. Seven hours would take me all week and into my weekend. No way Jose. And then I started reading it and was l I just cannot write this review. Sorry. Can't do it. When I first started actually reading this book my Kindle told me that it would take about 7 hours to finish. Lovely, right? I mean here it was Monday evening and I was getting ready to start my week at The Day Job (I work Tuesday through Saturday). Reading time through the week is hard to come by and tends to happen in spurts and fits. Seven hours would take me all week and into my weekend. No way Jose. And then I started reading it and was like, whoa Nellie, to have that kind of money. I mean life got messy, or hard, or stressful and immediately Rebecca's response was 'let's travel abroad and figure out what God wants us to do next'. Seriously?!? And then they would be abroad, usually in the Middle East, and they would just randomly decide to extend their trip or add destinations to their trip, or just next thing you know they would be gone months. Months! For the love of all the tomatoes I need their life! Oh the life paths I could figure out by traveling 'abroad'.All that being said I was surprised to learn that this book was based on real people. Sorta. In a way. I mean real sisters (twins) that lived in Scotland (not Chicago) made these discoveries. They traveled to the Middle East and made ancient discoveries. I mean I thought that was just part of the story to legitimize their travels. Nope, real deal. I really can't write this review. I mean ultimately, I loved this book. I have no idea why and can't begin to articulate and find words to tell you about it. The situations they find themselves in, while real, sometimes scatter into the 'wait, what?' moments. The mindset that life decisions are made abroad, yeah well still can't wrap my 'I can't afford to drive a state away and that's like an hours drive' mind. However, I was drawn into their lives, their adventures and their story.The faith was consistent throughout the story and so well woven into the fiber of the characters that I can't picture reading this book without it. Rebecca and Flora (while over the top in their wealth) were so well developed and I adored them. Even Kate and Soren were flesh and blood real for me. This book, with all these characters I can't begin to relate too, was so very well written with amazing characters and even over-the-top believability. Seven hours felt like nothing by the time I finished this book, even during the work week. I was entertained and absorbed sitting in the car before work, ignoring friends at lunch, and staying up entirely too late at night because I loved this book. I can't write this review. I can't find the right words. What I can do is tell you that I loved this book.I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by NetGalley. I was not compensated for this review and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.Originally posted at https://fizzypopcollection.com/where-....
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  • Jeanie
    January 1, 1970
    People always ask how a loving God could allow suffering but faith in God asks us to trust. Sisters Rebecca and Flora Hawes are not short in adventure in their search for God's purpose. Set in Chicago 1890's, the Hawe sisters live with their father who encourages his daughters in education and knowing the world around them for God's purpose. The sisters are different but their love for the Lord and each other keeps them keep united in spite of their differences. Rebecca longs to travel and study People always ask how a loving God could allow suffering but faith in God asks us to trust. Sisters Rebecca and Flora Hawes are not short in adventure in their search for God's purpose. Set in Chicago 1890's, the Hawe sisters live with their father who encourages his daughters in education and knowing the world around them for God's purpose. The sisters are different but their love for the Lord and each other keeps them keep united in spite of their differences. Rebecca longs to travel and study while Flora desire is for a husband and children. The plot is driven by these desires. In their travels, their is a discovery of truth for each sister. Rebecca desires the Lord to be known thru history and Flora desires the Lord to be known thru compassion. Each trip home, they discover a way to apply any truth they learn in for the good of their home in Chicago. Flora setting up an orphanage and Rebecca becoming an author and speaker. The setting of their story allows for the reader to re-live the great fire of Chicago and the living conditions of the poorest. The working conditions of children and women and the beginning of women's suffrage. I did struggle with the beginning as these sisters were well to do and even though their desires were of travel and society, they also learned compassion and the great responsibility of wealth to share what the Lord had given them. There also was a great debate in why we believe in God and how the struggle to believe is not intellectual but spiritual. How getting involved in the messy lives of others can only grow your faith and joy that only belongs in walking with the Lord. A Special Thank You to Bethany House Publishing and Netgalley for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review.
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  • (Liene)
    January 1, 1970
    Amazing read! Thing is, the first time I picked this book up as soon as it came out, I just couldn't get into it, so I stopped reading at about chapter 7. I knew I would finish the book at some point, though, because I like Lynn Austin so much. So the other day I gave it a second chance. And, wow, it's a new favorite! 5 stars, even with the hard to get into beginning, still 5 stars. Why? Because this book is about Jesus Christ, and it's told through the story of some really unique characters who Amazing read! Thing is, the first time I picked this book up as soon as it came out, I just couldn't get into it, so I stopped reading at about chapter 7. I knew I would finish the book at some point, though, because I like Lynn Austin so much. So the other day I gave it a second chance. And, wow, it's a new favorite! 5 stars, even with the hard to get into beginning, still 5 stars. Why? Because this book is about Jesus Christ, and it's told through the story of some really unique characters who all found a place in my heart. I've said this before in reviews and I have to say it again. Lynn Austin has a talent for writing characters and relationships between them. They really make the story come alive! And the story of Jesus was found all throughout! For a while I stayed away from Christian fiction, or, well, what's marketed as Christian fiction, because so often it's not Christian at all and has nothing to do with God or Jesus. Tired of disappointment, I stayed away from the genre for some months. I wanted to read fiction with real faith, with Jesus in it, and I really missed reading stories like that, so I chose this book to come back to the genre, since almost any book by Lynn Austin is going to be very much faith filled and I love her writing style and strength of creating characters. And the plot sounded really intriguing.This one is, in my opinion, her most faith filled book yet. It was so refreshing and I found myself smiling so much at the love of Christ in this story! I can't say enough about how much I loved the faith of the characters, the love of Jesus throughout and the difficulties the characters faced in their relationships and how they learned to resolve problems because of the love of Jesus. Very much a recommended read!!
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  • Rachael
    January 1, 1970
    I definitely wouldn't call it a fast-paced novel; the vast majority of the story is told in flashbacks (thankfully all done chronologically, except for when it jumps back to the present), so it reads more like a memoir, with Rebecca being the main focus, but Flora and, to a lesser extant, Soren and Kate having their share of memories. There's no real sense of urgency to the plot, and as such I had no problem putting the book down to go do other things.The history behind the story was fascinating I definitely wouldn't call it a fast-paced novel; the vast majority of the story is told in flashbacks (thankfully all done chronologically, except for when it jumps back to the present), so it reads more like a memoir, with Rebecca being the main focus, but Flora and, to a lesser extant, Soren and Kate having their share of memories. There's no real sense of urgency to the plot, and as such I had no problem putting the book down to go do other things.The history behind the story was fascinating--two adventurous women really did go off on their own to travel the Holy Land and discovered a palimpsest of the bible, written hundreds of years before. Knowing that it was loosely based off history made the story more interesting. I've always taken it for granted that the bible is proven true and unchanged since forever, but this book reminded me that there was a time--not so very long ago--in which ancient scrolls and codices that prove the authenticity of the bible had not yet been discovered by the modern world.The story is littered with spiritual references, and it's good to see the sisters relying on God, whatever the adventure they find themselves in. Each of the four characters is searching for the place where they belong, though the place may not be where modern society deems it should. I wish there had been a little more spark to the story, but it wasn't bad by any means. Just long and rather slow.Thank you Bethany house and NetGalley for a free e-book. I was not required to write a positive review, and all opinions are my own.
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  • Kate
    January 1, 1970
    I liked how this book was told from four different points of view, each bringing important pieces of their back story to explain how they were acting in the 'present'. I think Flora was my favourite character, though I really enjoyed all 4 (even prickly Kate!).I thought it was cool how Rebecca especially recognised that she and Flora were learning more about God's plans for them on each adventure they took. I want to live my life that way: to learn how to see God's plan and purpose for each thin I liked how this book was told from four different points of view, each bringing important pieces of their back story to explain how they were acting in the 'present'. I think Flora was my favourite character, though I really enjoyed all 4 (even prickly Kate!).I thought it was cool how Rebecca especially recognised that she and Flora were learning more about God's plans for them on each adventure they took. I want to live my life that way: to learn how to see God's plan and purpose for each thing He brings me to.
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  • Jill
    January 1, 1970
    Where We BelongI really enjoyed this story about two plucky sisters, Rebecca and Flora, living in 1800's Chicago. These ladies followed their passion for travel and adventure in spite of the fact that very little was expected of them other than getting married and hosting social gatherings. I was presently surprised to discover this story is based loosely on a true story.Rebecca is very stubborn and sometimes frustrating, but it's this stubborn streak that drives her to follow her heart and trav Where We BelongI really enjoyed this story about two plucky sisters, Rebecca and Flora, living in 1800's Chicago. These ladies followed their passion for travel and adventure in spite of the fact that very little was expected of them other than getting married and hosting social gatherings. I was presently surprised to discover this story is based loosely on a true story.Rebecca is very stubborn and sometimes frustrating, but it's this stubborn streak that drives her to follow her heart and travel the world looking for ancient Bible manuscripts. She is brave and very loyal to her sister.Flora is my favorite character. She is very caring and compassionate. She is an activist for the poor in the city of Chicago, but she's always up for an adventure with her sister. She and Rebecca make a good team.Themes of forgiveness, the importance of prayer, grace, and the truth of scripture are frequent throughout the book. There were a lot of details about Christianity in America and other parts of the world at the time. Much of this story is set in 1890's Egypt which I really enjoyed. It felt exotic and unique...and hot. If you enjoy historical fiction with strong faith elements and not a lot of romance, I would highly recommend this book. I received this book for free for the purpose of review.
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  • Debbie
    January 1, 1970
    "Where We Belong" is historical fiction set in 1860 to 1890 in Chicago and all over the world. The framing narrative occurred in 1890 as the four main characters try to reach the monastery at Mt. Sinai, but the weather and uncooperative guides are making that difficult. We get flashbacks to when Rebecca and Flora were young (in 1860) on up to the current situation to show how events brought them to undertake this quest. Near the end, we also get flashbacks for their two servants, Kate and Soren, "Where We Belong" is historical fiction set in 1860 to 1890 in Chicago and all over the world. The framing narrative occurred in 1890 as the four main characters try to reach the monastery at Mt. Sinai, but the weather and uncooperative guides are making that difficult. We get flashbacks to when Rebecca and Flora were young (in 1860) on up to the current situation to show how events brought them to undertake this quest. Near the end, we also get flashbacks for their two servants, Kate and Soren, so we see how meeting the sisters changed their lives. The overall theme was living a life filled with meaning by finding God's purposes for your life. Rebecca loves ancient manuscripts and travel while her sister loves helping the poor and orphans. Throughout their narrative, the sisters do a lot of traveling to France, England, Egypt, etc. The characters were interesting and acted realistically. While independent for their day, the sisters still came across as women of their time (rather than modern feminists transported back in time). Historical details were woven into the story and prompted some exciting adventures. The sisters trusted God with their safety and future, and Rebecca looked for ancient biblical manuscripts to help defend the accuracy of the Bible. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable novel.I received an ebook review copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.
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  • Fiction Aficionado
    January 1, 1970
    What an inspiring read! This book excited my wanderlust, my love of history, and my love of apologetics, and it reminded me that even when you feel like a misfit for the society you were born into—in fact, even when you’re TOLD you’re a misfit for the society you were born into—God has a purpose for your life, if you only have the faith and courage to pursue it.Sisters Rebecca and Flora most certainly had the faith and the courage! They firmly believe that ‘To whom much has been given, much will What an inspiring read! This book excited my wanderlust, my love of history, and my love of apologetics, and it reminded me that even when you feel like a misfit for the society you were born into—in fact, even when you’re TOLD you’re a misfit for the society you were born into—God has a purpose for your life, if you only have the faith and courage to pursue it.Sisters Rebecca and Flora most certainly had the faith and the courage! They firmly believe that ‘To whom much has been given, much will be required’ and they have spent their lives living out this belief. Flora has devoted herself to caring for society’s less fortunate, particularly establishing and teaching in local Sunday Schools so that children who are forced to work from a young age get the benefit of an education AND hearing the gospel. Rebecca firmly believes God’s purpose for her is searching for lost biblical documents and writing books that counter the faulty teaching of so-called scientists like Charles Darwin. It’s a purpose well served by her incurable thirst for adventure!At the opening of this novel, all of these aspects of Rebecca’s life have converged into a very personal quest to convince the man she loves that God is real. Hence she and Flora are making their way across the Sinai Desert in order to locate Biblical documents that will prove the reliability of the Bible to Rebecca’s beloved skeptic. How’s that for commitment?! But as important as this journey is, it actually constitutes the smaller part of this book.The larger part looks back over the sisters’ lives, starting in their teens and filling in the thirty years that have led them to this point, initially from Rebecca’s point of view (the first third of the novel) and then from Flora’s (the second third of the novel). The final third of the novel fills in the background story for their two companions on the journey: Soren Petersen (an orphaned teen they have taken in as a butler) and Kate Rafferty (a street urchin they took in to train as a lady’s maid after she tried to steal from them). While this may sound like a disjointed way to present their story, there was a very logical flow to the narrative, and it wasn’t long before I was completely hooked into the story and following Rebecca and Flora’s experiences, both past and present, with avid interest.At least part of my interest was because I could so easily relate to Rebecca in particular. I’m a total bluestocking, and I often felt out of place for it when I was growing up (and sometimes still do). But it was also inspiring to watch these sisters apply their faith at each stage of their lives, both in the little things and in the life-altering ones.If you're already a fan of Lynn Austin's writing, you likely need no encouragement to pick up this book, but if you haven't yet discovered her gift for weaving a compelling, faith-filled story, then this is a great place to start.I received a copy of this novel from the publisher. This had not influenced the content of my review, which is my honest and unbiased opinion.
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  • Joyce
    January 1, 1970
    This is the fifteenth book I have read by Lynn Austin. She is one of my favorite authors. I love historical fiction and I love how Lynn Austin blends history, characters, story, and faith.That being said, honestly it took me awhile to warm up to this book and its characters. At some point in my reading I figured out that the book is written in four sections, from four different viewpoints, with each character going back to their beginnings. For two of the characters that involved decades of expe This is the fifteenth book I have read by Lynn Austin. She is one of my favorite authors. I love historical fiction and I love how Lynn Austin blends history, characters, story, and faith.That being said, honestly it took me awhile to warm up to this book and its characters. At some point in my reading I figured out that the book is written in four sections, from four different viewpoints, with each character going back to their beginnings. For two of the characters that involved decades of experiences. I believe this caused the disconnect in the beginning.However, I hate books that bounce back and forth in time, or from one viewpoint to another, so overall this format was wonderful, once I realized there were missing pieces to be filled in later. The author's ability to weave the history and the characters into the story is amazing, and this book is no exception.I highly recommend this book to readers of all ages, genders, and backgrounds.The fact that this story is based on real life characters in a different location, who lived some of these amazing events makes it an even more wonderful story. And, as always, the faith base of the story, and the weaving it in throughout the book is amazing and an added bonus. It's not people spouting meaningless Bible verses, but rather people living out their faith for others to see, as it should be.The depth which was lacking in the beginning of the book was far outweighed by the depth of character at the end. The reader can't tell which way the story is going, or predict the characters' responses. The book is about relationships, primarily with God and family, but mostly about finding what one is meant to do in life, regardless of wealth or position. It's about needy people and people who care about them.Real people, real problems, real gifts, and the Real God. Fascinating story!I received my copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. My opinions are my own.
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  • Lauren
    January 1, 1970
    Tapped out on page 130. Never read Lynn Austin before and won't be again after this. I enjoy christian fiction on occasion (love Julie Klassen), but this got way too preachy for me. Austin clearly has an agenda and it's apparent on every page. I wanted to read a story about sisters traveling across Egypt to find some lost archaeological artifact. Instead what we get is mostly flashbacks of the sisters in their teen years acting like selfish, arrogant, spoiled brats with almost no redeeming quali Tapped out on page 130. Never read Lynn Austin before and won't be again after this. I enjoy christian fiction on occasion (love Julie Klassen), but this got way too preachy for me. Austin clearly has an agenda and it's apparent on every page. I wanted to read a story about sisters traveling across Egypt to find some lost archaeological artifact. Instead what we get is mostly flashbacks of the sisters in their teen years acting like selfish, arrogant, spoiled brats with almost no redeeming qualities. Flora was alright and perhaps the story should have been from her POV, but we get Rebecca who is just...awful in my opinion. When she's not spouting off her intelligence and the lack thereof with everyone else around her, she's pushing her ideals of God and Christianity onto everybody (including the reader). It's annoying, uninteresting and not for me. Would not recommend.
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  • Erin Laramore
    January 1, 1970
    I have loved every single Lynn Austin book I've read, and this one was no different. As a matter of fact, this one ranks near the top as one of my favorites of hers!This book starts in the Sinai Desert in 1890 where we find 2 middle aged sisters with 2 of their servants on their way to the Monastery of St. Catherine (located on Mt. Sinai) in search of ancient manuscripts. During this journey, they encounter several "life or death" scenarios which causes each of them to reminisce on the events th I have loved every single Lynn Austin book I've read, and this one was no different. As a matter of fact, this one ranks near the top as one of my favorites of hers!This book starts in the Sinai Desert in 1890 where we find 2 middle aged sisters with 2 of their servants on their way to the Monastery of St. Catherine (located on Mt. Sinai) in search of ancient manuscripts. During this journey, they encounter several "life or death" scenarios which causes each of them to reminisce on the events that lead them to this point. The book starts from the perspective (I use that term loosely as the book is in 3rd person throughout, which makes it much less confusing) of Rebecca, the older of the 2 sisters. During an intense sandstorm that has them battening down the hatches in the desert, she begins by thinking back to the first adventure she took with her sister, Flora, back in their teenage years. To be honest, I didn't much care for Rebecca when reading her own perspective.... she was overly opinionated, selfish and a bit too verbal..... and she reminded me a lot of myself. However, as the story progresses, we continue in the story line of the "present"(1890) and the memories flow into one full back-story as each person recognizes what events have brought them to this point. The first third of the book is devoted to Rebecca's perspective. The second third of the book flows into Flora's perspective. When reading as Rebecca, I adored Flora; however, when reading as Flora, I came to truly appreciate Rebecca and saw how their qualities complemented each other. I gained a new appreciation for those character "flaws" that had annoyed me as I saw myself in Rebecca and saw how those same traits were perceived by those she encountered. Flora's tale picks up where Rebecca's left off. The last third of the book is from the perspective of the 2 servants that have come into the sisters' care when they had nowhere else to go. I have always enjoyed books that take on different perspectives of individuals and meld it into one story and Ms. Austin has done a beautiful job of that here!One thing that I truly loved about this book is that it is based on a true story. There were indeed 2 sisters in the late 1800's who discovered some ancient texts at the Monastery of Saint Catherine on Mt. Sinai. In this time in history, women were not considered able to fend for themselves. They were not supposed to be overly educated and they certainly weren't supposed to be able to travel by themselves. These sisters overcame all of these odds and did all of those things. Lynn Austin took this story, and moving the sisters from Scotland to Chicago, wove an exceptional back-story that lead them to this place. It was fascinating to see how different they were from those around them, to read from their perspective of the great Chicago Fire, the War Between the States, and other nuances of the times. The great overwhelming theme of the book was seeking out God's purpose for your life - finding that one specific thing you were placed on this earth to do. Each of the characters was able, through this trip and their own personal history, able to find that. This was a great tale of faith, love, redemption and adventure. The characters were all well written and easy to love (yes, even Rebecca). And I loved how the way they lived their lives influenced those around them. If I could give this one more than 5 stars, I would. I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review."This is where belong, isn't it?On the path that leads to serving God? Isn't that the essence of faith - walking forward, trusting what you can't see?"
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  • Faye
    January 1, 1970
    Sisters Rebecca and Flora Hawes have a thirst for adventure and a passion for finding God's calling in their lives. Raised by their intellectual father, who encouraged their scholarship and their faith they experience more freedom than many young ladies of their time and station. But when their father meets a proper and society concerned widow, and with their father's failing health they must fight to pursue their passions.Their story jumps back to their childhood and youth, and the events that Sisters Rebecca and Flora Hawes have a thirst for adventure and a passion for finding God's calling in their lives. Raised by their intellectual father, who encouraged their scholarship and their faith they experience more freedom than many young ladies of their time and station. But when their father meets a proper and society concerned widow, and with their father's failing health they must fight to pursue their passions.Their story jumps back to their childhood and youth, and the events that marked Flora and Rebecca's lives, as they seek God's purpose in their lives. We also get a look into the lives of their unconventional servants Soren Petersen and Kate Rafferty, and how they came into the sisters' lives. A story sweeping decades from America to the streets of Paris and the deserts of the Holy Land.Rebecca is headstrong and intellectual, she is the born leader of the sisters, and is unafraid to stand up for herself and bend the rules sometimes. I admired her quick thinking and compassionate heart, yet how she was also firm in the fact that her sister's calling was not the same as her own. She loves her sister dearly, and trusts God for his purpose in her life. I like how she take initiative in every situation.Flora is the follower of the sisters, she is more eager to please, but still knows when to stand up for herself and others when it matters. She has a heart for the less fortunate, most especially the children. I love how she branches out on her own, without Rebecca to pursue her own passions for God's kingdom.The characters were so well done, and one of my favorites was probably Petersen, he comes from a hard life, but he has a tender heart and loves his brother dearly. He sees Christ in the way that the sisters treat him and Kate, and is inspired by their godly example in his life. Kate is stubborn and has a fighters will, she enjoys being contrary to Petersen, and her fiery personality is troublesome, and also loveable. Edmund is a wonderful friend and confidant to the sisters, I like how he isn't threatened by the sister's close bond, and works with both of them encouraging them in their work.Overall, one of my favorite books this year. I love the strong messages of faith and how the sisters weren't just content with their comfortable life, but wanted to use what God had given them to help others and show them His love. They take in Petersen and Kate, showing them grace and God's love. Different from the Christian romances of this genre, this book stands apart in it's powerful message of faith, and strong female protagonists based loosely on real people.A unforgettable read that I enjoyed every minute of it. I didn't want it to end!Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and testimonials in Advertising."
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  • Julia Wilson
    January 1, 1970
    Where We Belong by Lynn Austin is a marvellous Christian historical novel that I could not get enough of. It is based on fact. Lynn Austin has woven a fabulous tale that educates, informs and entertains.The novel alternates between 1890 and 1860 moving forwards. The action is seen from four different viewpoints, with the result that the reader becomes intimately acquainted with the main characters. We understand their motivations as they explode from 2D into glorious 3D Technicolour in our minds Where We Belong by Lynn Austin is a marvellous Christian historical novel that I could not get enough of. It is based on fact. Lynn Austin has woven a fabulous tale that educates, informs and entertains.The novel alternates between 1890 and 1860 moving forwards. The action is seen from four different viewpoints, with the result that the reader becomes intimately acquainted with the main characters. We understand their motivations as they explode from 2D into glorious 3D Technicolour in our minds.The leading ladies are sisters, fearless, forward thinking young women. Pioneers of their time. Their hearts and lives are fully focused on Jesus. They present themselves as His hands and feet to a hurting world. "The Almighty has given us so much, and I have to try to make a difference." Their riches are not their possessions, their riches are their faith in God. "God gives us wealth so we can use it to build His kingdom, not our own."A heart for the poor leads the sisters into some scrapes that both horrify and bring applause from the reader.A social conscience and a heart for the lost and the hurting propel the sisters into action. "Someone had to try to reach these young people before they were lost forever."There is an appetite for learning. Learning brings freedom and choice. The sisters risk isolation as they are not content with being social butterflies. With a desire to be educated, they risk being shunned by polite society which views educated women as 'bluestockings' and not attractive to men. Men at that time wanted subservient women. Women were expected to make marriage alliances for wealth rather than for love.The novel has the themes of forgiveness and new life. We need to forgive and be forgiven because God tells us to. No one is ever too bad for God's family. We are all accepted by grace. We cannot earn it. We cannot lose it. Grace is a free gift. As we come to God, He gives us new life and a new name. Name changes in the story are important as they signify new beginnings.There is a huge element of faith in the novel. "Trust Him and wait." There is a belief that God has a purpose for each and every one of us. We need to seek our purpose in Him. "She had found her purpose at last."So strong is their faith, that no matter what happens the sisters put their trust in God. The reader is reminded of Daniel and the fiery furnace - our God will deliver us but even if He doesn't, we will still trust Him. Praise Him in the good and the bad. Have an attitude of worship at all times.The reader travels from Chicago to London to Paris, Italy, Cambridge, the Holy Land - all from the confines of their sofa. We 'experience' historical events and see how ordinary lives are impacted.Where We Belong was one of the best novels I have ever read - and I have read a lot! I was educated, entertained and inspired. I cannot wait to read more by the marvellous Lynn Austin.I received this book for free. A favourable review was not required and all views expressed are my own.
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  • Kathleen (Kat) Smith
    January 1, 1970
    What really made me want to read this book, before I ever looked at the synopsis, is the cover. Just something about exploring Egypt has always fascinated me, and this book by Lynn Austin is no disappointment. Truly something a bit unique but found myself thinking of this book, like The Mummy movie with Brandon Frasier, because of the woman in the movie, who defies social stereotypes of the era and branches out on her own. In Where We Belong, Rebecca and Flora Hawes are being raised by their fat What really made me want to read this book, before I ever looked at the synopsis, is the cover. Just something about exploring Egypt has always fascinated me, and this book by Lynn Austin is no disappointment. Truly something a bit unique but found myself thinking of this book, like The Mummy movie with Brandon Frasier, because of the woman in the movie, who defies social stereotypes of the era and branches out on her own. In Where We Belong, Rebecca and Flora Hawes are being raised by their father, since their mother's death on Flora's birth that left them without the influence of a woman in their household. Being from a well-to-do family, they lacked for nothing with what money could buy for a good education, and their father held nothing back from them. Deep within both of the girl's hearts was a love for adventure and travel, and at any early age knew that they could convince their father to take them on a European trip to discover the things they were being taught at school, better than any books could teach them. They only had to present it in the correct manner as father liked to conduct all things with a business plan in mind and thus the reason they were so well off. After their latest adventure and returning on their voyage home, they encountered Mrs. Worthington who was also a widow with a plan and purpose. She manages to convince their father that both girls will need suitable husbands to help manage their finances and thinks her nephews would make the ideal candidates. But Rebecca isn't ready to settle down with the quintessential husband that society and her father would love for her to marry. Flora is quite pleased with having the best of both world and soon falls in love with Thomas. Knowing their father's health is failing, they beg him to not marry Mrs. Worthington until they return from one final trip to visit Egypt and the Holy Lands. But alas, fate will take its own turn as their father passes away and the girls are stuck with figuring out how to manage without a man's influence in their lives any longer. Their journey has only just begun and its about to get very interesting with whom they meet on their latest trip abroad. I received Where We Belong by Lynn Austin compliments of Baker Publishing Group and NetGalley. I absolutely LOVE Rebecca's spirit of adventure in not conforming to societies standards for proper young women! This is like an Indiana Jones adventure but with switching the roles between the main characters. I found myself rooting for her the whole time and really wanted to see where all this would lead and could only imagine untapped wealth and the ability to travel makes this such an enjoyable novel. I easily give this one a 5 out of 5 stars in my opinion!
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  • Becky
    January 1, 1970
    First sentence: Rebecca Hawes lay awake in her tent, convinced that the howling wind was about to lift her entire camp into the air and hurl it to the far side of the desert.Premise/plot: Where We Belong tells the story of two adventuring sisters Rebecca and Flora Hawes. The novel opens in the Sinai Desert in 1890, the sisters are on a quest to find ancient manuscripts. In particular, Becky is looking for ancient copies of the New Testament. She has, by this point, co-written several books on he First sentence: Rebecca Hawes lay awake in her tent, convinced that the howling wind was about to lift her entire camp into the air and hurl it to the far side of the desert.Premise/plot: Where We Belong tells the story of two adventuring sisters Rebecca and Flora Hawes. The novel opens in the Sinai Desert in 1890, the sisters are on a quest to find ancient manuscripts. In particular, Becky is looking for ancient copies of the New Testament. She has, by this point, co-written several books on her archaeological discoveries. She's hoping that a new discovery will help skeptics believe that the Bible is reliable and reasonable. The story line set in 1890 is packed with action and adventure. But the book doesn't stay in 1890, in fact it is dominated by flashbacks--flashbacks for four main characters: Becky, Flora, Soren, and Kate. The earliest flashbacks take us back to the school years of Becky and Flora and how their love of 'adventure' began when they were still teens. (Their first adventure being skipping school and exploring Chicago.) The two sisters--in particular Becky Hawes--are unconventional in many ways. The two share a love for traveling the world, learning new languages, bargaining with the natives and picking up souvenirs. The two also share concern for others. Flora has a heart for the poor, particularly orphaned and abandoned children. Becky has a heart for the lost. She sees her love of archaeology being in line with that concern. Her work may remove barriers keeping people from believing that the Bible is the true word of God. That's how she sees it anyway. Both sisters have a strong faith in God.My thoughts: I liked this one. I didn't love, love, love it. I honestly thought it was a bit too long. The story set in 1890 was compelling, but the flashbacks were not equally so. In fact, I found some of the flashbacks to be more tedious than not. (Not all the flashbacks lacked action; one sequence takes readers to the Chicago Fire.)I found it interesting that this one is based very loosely on real sisters--Agnes and Margaret Smith. But the authors note makes it clear that it is VERY loosely based. Agnes and Margaret Smith were Scottish, not American, and most of the book is complete fiction.
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  • Amy Bradsher
    January 1, 1970
    I want to be just like the Hawes sisters when I grow up!  They're the neatest people.  I love the way that they don't let themselves be defined by Victorian standards and how they stand up for what they feel is right, no matter the repercussions.  From clothing choices to how they spend their time, Flora and Rebecca do exactly what they feel God is leading them to do. I love their refrain: God knows the hour of our end, so there's no need to worry"  (That's my summary of it, not an exact quote.) I want to be just like the Hawes sisters when I grow up!  They're the neatest people.  I love the way that they don't let themselves be defined by Victorian standards and how they stand up for what they feel is right, no matter the repercussions.  From clothing choices to how they spend their time, Flora and Rebecca do exactly what they feel God is leading them to do. I love their refrain: God knows the hour of our end, so there's no need to worry"  (That's my summary of it, not an exact quote.)  I'm horrible about worrying and seeing trouble around every corner, so I loved hearing this motto throughout the story.  Having it come up whenever trouble was in sight was a great way to remember what is really important. The sisters were fascinating main characters.  I loved the history embedded in the story, but their pluckand sense of adventure was by far my favorite part.  I loved their willingness - no, their determination - to head out on an adventure, whether it was down the street or overseas.  That's exactly the kind of person I want to be!   Austin wrote the perfect ending for the sisters.  Their life does not give them the neat-and-tidy ending they wanted, but it does fit the plot of the story and the character of the women.  I enjoyed seeing it play out and couldn't wait to find out what happened - although I didn't want it to end! I was shocked when I turned the last page and found out that the Hawes sisters were based on real women.  Who knew?  I've never heard of the real people before, but I definitely want to learn more about them now.  They sound like super interesting people, and I love that Austin took a piece of truth and built such fascinating characters around real women. I haven't read an Austin book yet that is less than wonderful, but they seem each to get better by turn.  Where We Belong is my favorite Austin offering yet. I received a free copy of  Where We Belong from the author.  All opinions are my own.
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  • Devyn
    January 1, 1970
    I received this book from Goodreads.Warning: Christian Fiction!!! Obvious? Not at all, because I otherwise wouldn't have entered the giveaway. I hate it when this happens...Anyway.Another Not my Cup of Tea situation. Where We Belong sounded sooo good. Historical fiction, two spunky women defying the Men Only rule, and traveling. Just my kind of book. It was a huge disappointment when I discovered it was Christian fiction- which is normally a deal breaker- but I plowed on anyway because I've read I received this book from Goodreads.Warning: Christian Fiction!!! Obvious? Not at all, because I otherwise wouldn't have entered the giveaway. I hate it when this happens...Anyway.Another Not my Cup of Tea situation. Where We Belong sounded sooo good. Historical fiction, two spunky women defying the Men Only rule, and traveling. Just my kind of book. It was a huge disappointment when I discovered it was Christian fiction- which is normally a deal breaker- but I plowed on anyway because I've read one or two wonderful books under that genre and I'd hate to miss out just because I was being closeminded.I found out real quick that this is not one of those wonderful books.The first thing that tipped me off was the historical inaccuracy- I know, historical FICTION- but this was out right lies about some well known military actions by both the Confederate and the Union. Like the bombing of Fort Sumter, for only one example.The second was that this is another CF book where religion is the MCs only identity. That's it. No personality. Only religion. By this point I was very tempted to just quit.The third and most pressing was that I was bored to tears very early on and just wanted to read something else- anything else!And the fourth was that basically when the half point of the book hit the goal changed from traveling for pleasure, to traveling to find written proof of the bible so skeptics and unbelievers have to convert. Mmm, no, thanks. I personally prefer my Christian fiction with a big cup of compassion dipped straight from the deep well of tolerance... and not mopped up from the shallow puddle of judgment and wringed from the frayed rag of arrogance.
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