Song of the Shepherd Woman
By Carlene Havel and Sharon Faucheux
Genre: Biblical Fiction, Women’s Fiction
Orphaned girl, Channa, is cast aside by a self-centered uncle who decides she should be someone else’s responsibility to raise. Shifted to the care of her “crazy” Uncle Avram and mute Aunt Yael, Channa is raised as a shepherdess and finds the love and comfort of a real family.
Thinking her life it to be forever with them, her world is shaken when her first uncle returns to take her to the husband she has been sold to. If being taken from the family she loves and given to a stranger isn’t bad enough, she discovers she is his second wife. The first wife, Keren, is jealous of Channa and makes life difficult.
Circumstances continue to grow more complicated and force Channa to make difficult decisions. As the story progresses, followers of the Way intersect her and Uncle Avram’s lives, but following the Way is not easy, and doing what is right isn’t always what is desired.
Favorite Character: My favorite character is actually the “crazy” Uncle Avram. He uses the false rumors to his advantage and is actually a very caring man. My favorite part was how he intersected the Gospel story in so many ways that are indirect in reading but still so powerful.
What I liked: I really savored all the historical details. The Jewish culture and beliefs of the time were very well researched and presented in the story. I also loved how the Gospel story was integrated indirectly but so powerfully.
Who would like this: Those who like Biblical fiction, stories where life doesn’t go as planned but the heroine makes the best of the situation, and those interested in a different culture/lifestyle.
Rating and Why: I give this story 4.5 stars. I enjoyed the plot and characters but it took me a little bit to get into the story. Based on the blurb I had previously read, I thought it would take us through the marriage issues as the main problem starting from the beginning. However, my mind was thrown off a bit by the thirteen chapters that happened before the actual marriage. The beginning was necessary and enjoyable but I kept getting distracted by when the events in the blurb would happen. I will be honest in saying this misconception probably tainted my enjoyment, by no fault of the author.
The story taken as a whole was engaging and something I would recommend others read.
*I received a free copy of the e-book from the author for my enjoyment. The review above is my own opinion and was not influenced in any way.*
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Congratulations to our winner of an e-copy: Luca C!
Welcome friends to another author interview! Today I would like to introduce to you Carelene Havel.
Carlene Havel writes Christian-themed romances and historical novels. She has lived in Turkey, Republic of the Philippines, and numerous US states. After a career in human resources and software development, she began writing in 2005. The Havels live in Texas, surrounded by their extended family.
WC: Thank you, Carlene, for doing this interview. Your bio says you have lived in numerous places. What brought you to those places?
Carlene: My husband was in the US Air Force. He went wherever his military duty required him to go, and I followed. I’d never been on an airplane before getting married, nor had I traveled much. I had no idea what adventures awaited me after saying, “I do”.
WC: Please, tell your husband thank you for serving, and thank YOU for being a military wife. That comes with its own set of challenges. You both are appreciated.
Which place was your favorite to live in? Why?
Carlene: I was born and raised in Texas, and some of my ancestors were here since before it was part of the United States. Therefore, to remain in good standing with my family, I have to proclaim my home state as my fave.
However, the most exotic place was Turkey. We lived at Karamursel Air Station near the village of Yalova, across the Sea of Marmara from Istanbul—one of the world’s most delightful cities.
My friends and I fearlessly drove all over the country in a Volkswagen beetle, enjoying the historic ruins. I never developed a taste for their strong coffee but did fall in love with the hot tea (they call it chai) served everywhere in Turkey.
I’ve been back twice in the intervening years, but there’s nothing like actually living somewhere to soak up the full richness of a culture. Turkey and its honest, industrious people will always have a special place in my heart.
WC: Those sound like very cherished memories. What things did you learn by living in a different country?
I learned that people are very much the same, despite variations in language, dress, and customs. Beneath those superficial differences, there is that universal human heart. We all love our children and yearn for them to have a better life than ours. Given the chance, most people are decent, generous, and helpful. And, yet, every population has its share of rascals and handful of evil monsters.
WC: The Bible is full of rich, wonderful words. What is your favorite Bible verse?
Carlene: This question always challenges me because my favorite changes from time to time. I love John and Romans, but today I’m thinking about a beautiful verse from Isaiah 42:2.
WC: Writing is a very solitary undertaking, but I have found God to be present in the writing and in teaching us as we go. What is something God taught you on your writing journey?
Carlene: Patience! Authoring a book is quite an undertaking, but writing “the end” on the manuscript is not even the midpoint of the trip. Finding the right publisher or self-publishing, and working with a cover designer draw out the process to the point the writer wonders if the book will ever see the light of day. And, oh, that editing–combing through your book so many times you know it by heart, still finding misspelled words, dangling participles, and far too many commas. Then, when the baby is at last delivered, it’s time to tackle the uphill climb called marketing.
WC: I enjoyed reading Song of the Shepherd Woman. I think my favorite aspect was how you connected the Gospel story to the lives of your characters. What was the hardest part of interweaving your story with the Gospel?
Carlene: I started to ponder what happened to the shepherds who were in the fields on that first Christmas. Were all of them followers of Jesus for the rest of their lives? Suppose one of these young men went astray. What would the remedy be? Perhaps later in life he reluctantly takes responsibility for a helpless child, a little girl who reminds him of the power of simple faith. These thoughts rattled around in my head, gradually forming the characters who became Avram and Channah. After I fell in love with them, I felt compelled to write their story.
WC: The details you used really showed the amount of research you did. How did you do most of your research? (Books, internet, interviews, travel?) What was something you learned that really surprised you?
Carlene: My writing partner, Sharon Faucheux, is the main historian, while I’m more the story-teller. Sharon uses reference books and the internet for most of her research. I read a nonfiction book about how to breed and take care of sheep before starting to write “Song of the Shepherd Woman”.
I also happened to be in a Bible study with a woman who shared some tidbits from her experience raising sheep. I sent an email to an Australian sheep farmer we located through the internet and clarified a few lingering questions.
The most surprising thing I learned is how helpless sheep are. Just about everything frightens them, and those who know them best maintain they are downright stupid.
WC: That is really powerful when you think about it in the context of Jesus calling us sheep. No wonder He wants to be our shepherd, and seeing how shepherds really do care for their sheep in your story is such a wonderful reflection of his love.
What is the main thing you want your readers to take away from this story when they walk away?
Carlene: I hope my story encourages readers to trust steadfastly in God, even when human logic says faith is foolish.
WC: I love to ask just for fun questions. What is on the top of your Bucket List for 2018?
Most books! Pelican Book Group has contracted my novella “Parisian Surprise”, a contemporary Christian romance, which I hope will be released sometime this year. Also, I’ve almost finished a novel about a man’s attempt to heal his broken marriage. I have some simmering ideas for a sequel to “Song of the Shepherd Woman” as well.
Thank you, Charlene, for sharing about your travels, your book, and all the wonderful insight you have gained from that. My beloved readers, you can have a chance to win an e-copy of Charlene’s novel by commenting below AND entering the Rafflecopter give away below. Entries open Tuesday 12 AM (EST) 1/30/2018 and close on Monday, 2/5/2108, at 11:59 PM (EST).
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So readers, what is on your 2018 Bucket List?
*Legal Jargon: No Purchase is necessary. This contest is open to all readers in the world, 18 years and older who are legally allowed to participate in such a giveaway as allowed by their local laws. The Write Call does not exchange prizes for reviews. Reviews are appreciated, but not required.*