RECENT REVIEWS & ENDORSEMENTS

  • David and the Philistine Woman
    Paul Boorstin
    I enjoyed reading thing book very much. It is a retale of the Bible story - David & Goliath. I appreciate this fresh take on an old tired tale, which highlighted strong women. The descriptions were great & the writing was superb!

    ~ Macy Rodriguez, NetGalley

  • David and the Philistine Woman
    Paul Boorstin
    This is a fascinating twist of the story of David and Goliath, giving the Philistine point of view. Although it's fictional, it's based on archeological and cultural data. It's a great story and if you know the Biblical account of David's life, it will give you some food for thought. The characters are well developed and I connected with them. I got an insight into the ancient Philistine culture. ~ Cynthia Trotter, Missionary with Wycliffe Bible Translators since 1996 M.A.

  • David and the Philistine Woman
    Paul Boorstin
    This work of biblical fiction concentrates on the period of David's youth, from his days as a shepherd until his famous clash with Goliath. Based on chapter 17 of the first Book of Samuel, the novel provides imagined details about background, characters, and conversations that colorfully and creatively enhance the original text.

    Paul Boorstin is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and screenwriter with experience working for Discovery, History, and National Geographic. He brings his trained eye to the story of David before he becomes King of the Israelites, delving into David's strained relationships with his father and brothers, and difficult encounters with the unstable King Saul. His mother, who isn't mentioned in the Bible, has a large role here. We witness the tentative budding romance between David and Michal, daughter of King Saul and the hard-won friendship between David and Jonathan, the fearless warrior son of King Saul, who is next in line for the throne.

    David the shepherd wanders alone, worshipping G-d through his kindness for the flock and attention to the rhythms of nature. He is belittled by his warrior brothers and by his pious father, who spends his days and nights praying alone. His mother, however, believes he is destined for greatness, so David isn't surprised when he is anointed secretly by the prophet Samuel. David constantly awaits to hear the voice of G-d but is disappointed again and again; instead he learns to follow his own heart and instincts to gain the high level of confidence needed for leadership.

    Boorstin also places the biblical story within a broader religious landscape, highlighting four different types of worship prevalent at the time. The Israelites are forbidden graven images and believe in the invisible one G-d whose Ten Commandments are housed in the Ark of the Covenant and protected by priests. The Philistines worship Dagon, who is depicted in menacing graven images that necessitate the constant sacrifice of animals. A hidden society of hunted women believe in the female goddess Ashdoda, a beautiful idol whose tears became powerful stones when they fell to earth; women secretly pray to her for fertility and other blessings. There are Nubian traders who worship serpents, which are tattooed onto their skin.

    Goliath is a singular giant warrior who leads the Philistines of Gath in their mortal fight against the Israelites. The Dagon priests search for a bride for Goliath, a woman who equals him in stature and strength to create an army of giants. Nara illegally forges excellent iron weapons for her father Ezel which the Philistines use against the Israelite's lesser weapons. Nara's development provides a backdrop for the ultimate battlefield meeting between David and Goliath.

    In the vein of Anita Diamant’s The Red Tent, Anne Roiphe's Water from the Well, Rebecca Kohn’s The Gilded Chamber, and so many more, David and the Philistine Woman may engender enough curiosity to encourage the reader to go back the original texts of the Bible. This is just one more reason to devour this luscious novel and look forward to more smart, entertaining books by Paul Boorstin.

    http://www.jewishbookcouncil.org/book/david-and-the-philistine-woman ~ Miriam Bradman Abrahams, The Jewish Book Council

  • David and the Philistine Woman
    Paul Boorstin
    ‘David and the Philistine Woman’ imagines the man behind the mythical King David

    Nothing in the Bible is quite like the life story of King David, as told in the Book of Samuel, for its potent blend of politics and passion. It’s the stuff of both Shakespearean tragedy and tabloid scandal, which is exactly why David has attracted the attention of authors ranging from John Dryden to William Faulkner to Joseph Heller, among many more.

    The latest writer to reimagine King David is Paul Boorstin, the Los Angeles-based documentary filmmaker whose debut historical novel, “David and the Philistine Woman” (Top Hat Books), is rooted in the biblical text and yet soars into the realm of imagination. Where the Bible is spare and suggestive, Boorstin is ornate and explicit. Indeed, his real accomplishment is to extract David from pious tradition — the “sweet singer of Israel,” God’s “beloved” and anointed king — and present him to us as a flesh-and-blood human being.

    Young David, for example, has long been depicted in religious art with a lyre in his hand, the instrument with which he soothed the rage and lifted the depression of King Saul. Boorstin, however, allows us to enter David’s mind as he plucks the strings of his famous instrument and, in doing so, deftly reminds us of David’s humble origins as a shepherd.

    “The taut strands of sheep sinew allowed David to sense what would take place before his eyes could see it or his ears could hear,” the author writes. “Sometimes there was a sweetness in the notes, like turtle-doves at dawn, which filled him with hope. At other times, the notes stung like thorns, announcing that a dust storm was brewing or that a pack of wolves had cornered a ram in a ravine.”

    Thus does Boorstin echo biblical words and phrases while evoking the setting in which a real shepherd would have worked. When David comes upon a ewe about to give birth, he wonders: “Had the Almighty sent him a sign at last?” But he quickly breaks off his reverie and sets about the task of easing the delivery. “In that tense moment, David did not pray to the Almighty. There was no time for prayer. It was his way to act quickly and let the work of his hands serve as prayer enough. He hastily wiped the mucous from the lamb’s nostrils with his tunic, to make it easier for the creature to breathe.”

    Still, Boorstin recognizes and honors the charisma that the biblical David possesses. He adopts the name given to David’s mother in the Talmud, Nitzevet — she is unnamed in the Bible — and depicts her as a doting Jewish mother who sees greatness in her son: “Moses they respected,” David’s mother is made to say by the author to her son, “but you the people will love.”

    Among the wealth of stories that are told about David in the Bible, Boorstin singles out the mythic battle between David and Goliath. As it appears in the Book of Samuel, the incident seems like a fairy tale, but Boorstin boldly introduces new and wholly imaginary characters and exploits to the old Sunday school favorite. For example, he credits Nitzevet for giving young David his first slingshot and teaching him how to use it. “The lyre allows you to feel,” she tells him, “but the sling allows you to act.”

    Much of the narrative, in fact, is pure invention. Boorstin imagines a woman named Nara, the daughter of a Philistine ironsmith who secretly initiates her into the skills and rituals of making weapons, a craft that is reserved for men alone. Nara, who is unusually tall, is singled out to marry Goliath, “a fitting match for him in her strength and stature” precisely because she possesses “a body created by the god Dagon to bring forth Goliath’s heirs.” And the author contrives an elaborate conspiracy between David and Nara, each of whom is assigned a crucial role in the life and death of Goliath that appears nowhere in the Bible.

    Pious readers of the Bible may object to the liberties Boorstin has taken with the ancient text. But “David and the Philistine Woman,” like other post-biblical works of art and authorship, also can be approached as a kind of midrash, if only because it may send the attentive reader back to the family Bible to find out what actually is written there and what originates only in the author’s imagination. Entirely aside from such hermeneutics, Boorstin deserves praise for writing a novel so full of adventure, intrigue and passion that it stands entirely on its own as a great yarn.

    JONATHAN KIRSCH, book editor of the Jewish Journal, is the author of “King David: The Real Life of the Man Who Ruled Israel.” ~ Jonathan Kirsch, Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles

  • David and the Philistine Woman
    Paul Boorstin
    I read this novel in 2 days. I thank Paul Boorstin for giving us strong women, Israelite and Philistine. This definitely fleshed out the David and Goliath story. Totally enjoyed this book. ~ Carol Fox, Netgalley

  • David and the Philistine Woman
    Paul Boorstin
    In the tradition of The Red Tent, David and the Philistine Woman (Top Hat Books; due Aug. 2017) is award-winning documentary filmmaker Paul Boorstin’s inspired reimagining of the ultimate narrative of good triumphing over evil — the clash of David and Goliath. Here, he adds Nara — a blacksmith’s daughter and the Philistine woman in the title — who is betrothed to Goliath because of her remarkable height and strength, and whose fate collides with David’s destiny. ~ , Detroit Jewish News

  • David and the Philistine Woman
    Paul Boorstin
    5/5 Stars

    This beautifully imagined story of David and Goliath, based on the Bible story, brings historical and social realities of two clashing tribes Israelites and Philistines.

    David is the youngest son of Jesse of Bethlehem. He doesn’t follow his brothers to war. Instead he becomes the shepherd of his father’s flock. A task which some may find shame in, but he feels pride instead, tenderly caring for the sheep. Until a prophet Samuel shows upon their door and announces the next Israelite king, after King Saul.

    David's story is intertwined with Nara’s, who is a daughter of master blacksmith of the Philistine city of Gath. At the age of 16, she is chosen for an honor by the high priest. She doesn’t understand the meaning of his words at the time. Soon after, she gets married to Goliath, a giant warrior.

    David’s and Nara’s search, of what is meaningful to each of them, puts them on the same path. At the end, two people from opposite tribes join in the same mission.

    The story ends with the famous fight of David and Goliath.

    The story is engrossing, bringing David’s caring nature, his search for meaning in life. When he feels lost, he goes back to what is most meaningful in his life – simplicity. ~ Annette Bukowiec, NetGalley

  • Little Wagons, The
    Crozier Green
    A very gripping read! I watched 'The Godfather' many year's ago and admit that i wasn't keen on the movie back then. I suppose my taste has changed over the year's, as i do enjoy reading fiction/non fiction involving the Mafia.

    I can certainly recommend this powerful novel. It is the first time that I have read any novels by this author and basing on this book alone, I cannot wait to read more by Crozier Green.
    ~ Jeannette Styles, Amazon/GoodReads

  • David and the Philistine Woman
    Paul Boorstin
    A powerful and inspirational novel that remains faithful to the spirit of the Biblical original, yet reads like a thriller. ~ Jim Calio, The Huffington Post

  • David and the Philistine Woman
    Paul Boorstin
    Are we turning into a nation of “Philistines?” Have we become a land of foul-mouthed oafs spewing twitter tantrums? Well, from what archaeologists have discovered about the original Philistines in the Bible, it looks like we’re giving those ancient Philistines a bum rap! I was surprised to learn that while Paul Boorstin was researching his gripping new novel, David and the Philistine Woman, the award-winning documentary filmmaker found that archaeology reveals the Philistines were a far cry from the image of uncouth Neanderthals they have been smeared with for the past 3,000 years.

    Breathing to life the world of the Philistines and Israelites, Boorstin has thrust us into the turbulent ancient world in a powerful and inspirational novel that remains faithful to the spirit of the Biblical original, yet reads like a thriller.

    First, to find out what the Philistines were really like, he pored over the latest archaeological research. It exploded the ancient myths. Boorstin explains, “In archaeological digs at sites such as Beth Shemesh and Ashkelon, in what is now Israel, artifacts have revealed that the Philistines in Goliath’s time were an advanced, civilized people. They were accomplished builders, skilled makers of wine and olive oil, and adept with the loom and the pottery kiln.”

    Why then, I wondered, have the Philistines got such a terrible rep today? Boorstin smiles: “Because history is written by the victors, the Bible gives the Israelites the last word. Only in modern times has the truth come to light.”

    I was interviewing Paul Boorstin in his living room in LA, which is filled with African masks and other rare artifacts collected in his years of exploring faraway places, from Timbuktu to the upper Amazon. Boorstin has made National Geographic TV documentaries about baboons in South Africa and big cats in India. He also wrote the definitive two-hour documentary on the Kennedy family that is shown on the History Channel each year on the anniversary of JFK’s death.

    Boorstin believes that his documentary experience uniquely equipped him to write David and the Philistine Woman: “Working with camera crews around the world under difficult and sometimes risky conditions, I learned that what happens outside the narrow frame of the camera lens—both behind the scenes, and in the human heart—is usually more important than what finally appears on film or video.”

    Starting with David, the most beloved character in the Old Testament, and his deadly clash with Goliath—only a few paragraphs in the Bible—he says, “I felt compelled to reimagine the towering personalities and fierce conflicts that raged at this crucial turning point in history.”

    Through the fast-moving twists of the novel’s plot, we experience David’s dangerous journey from untested boy to dynamic leader. I was especially struck by the importance of women in Boorstin’s novel, even though they receive scant mention in the Biblical story.

    “The role of women as a moral anchor in the Bible cannot be overstated,” he explains, “so it’s central to David and the Philistine Woman. Though that role was not as openly discussed in ancient times, the part played by strong women in those days was crucial. Like the women of today, they risked their lives for what they knew was right, whether or not they got the credit they deserved. The ‘Philistine Woman’ in my book’s title is betrothed to Goliath, and will herself be forced to make courageous choices that will ultimately help to shape David’s future.”

    How have the experts reacted to his bold reimagining of an iconic story? I asked. Boorstin replied, “I was delighted when Rabbi David Wolpe, one of the world’s leading experts on David, enthusiastically endorsed my novel, as did Reza Aslan, CNN religion authority and New York Times best-selling author of Zealot: “The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth”. My book is also a finalist in the 2017 Indie Book Awards.”

    Boorstin’s novel, portraying young David’s struggle 3,000 years ago, holds a powerful message for us today: “Unlike Biblical figures such as Moses or Abraham, young David never witnesses a miracle, and he never hears God speak directly to him,” the author explains. “Now we, like David, face that same dilemma: We must do the right thing, but without the comfort of God whispering into our ear exactly what we must do. And yet, it is upon each of us to listen to our heart, as young David did, and do the right thing.”

    Boorstin’s historical novel David and the Philistine Woman offers probing insights for these especially troubled times.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/author-paul-boorstin-gives-a-startling-new-twist-to_us_59164b81e4b0bd90f8e6a557 ~ Jim Calio, The Huffington Post

  • That They Might Lovely Be
    David Matthews
    David Matthews’ excellent first novel is about love unknown, about sin and its consequences, about grief and even about redemption. Although there is war, suicide, loneliness and despair, it is a deeply hopeful novel.
    The story is romantic but is far more than just a romance. The mute son of the schoolmaster, who may or may not really be the illegitimate son of his spinster daughter, is at the heart of the novel. His character develops as he discovers speech, grows and eventually is able to form a mature relationship; escaping from the claustrophobic family home and seeing his first adopted refuge destroyed by war.
    This is a very good read. The dialogue is particularly well written and realistic, the era is evoked perfectly and without artificial information being used to prop up the action. The perfect material for a film or mini-series, That They Might Lovely Be is a delight to read. ~ Fr Richard Peers, blogger, Director of Education in the Anglican diocese of Liverpool

  • Little Wagons, The
    Crozier Green
    5/5 Stars
    This an excellent story of the mafia in Sicily in the nineteenth century. Taking you from the sulfur mines, to prisons, and the life in the village and the men who control the jobs. There are celebrations, payoffs, back stabbing, knife fights, and prison breaks. There is also a love story but she does not want to marry the man her father picked for her so he sent him to prison. The daughter Gabriela is the cause for much turmoil, but the story really follows the life of young pick-man Tommaso. Through his life you follow his hardships, and defeats. Until a day that he is chosen to kill one of the hogs for the celebration in the village. Then after witnessing a knife fight he must not only defend his life but also Gabriela’s. Both of these happening on the same day you begin to see a change and that is also when his life turns, and the power of the Gabriela’s father has him sent to prison on a lie, not knowing this until after he is at the prison. A very good story and all of the questions you have at the beginning are answered at the end with a few surprises. The characters are well developed and overall this is a very good story with a lot of detail. ~ Pat Lorelli, NetGalley

  • That They Might Lovely Be
    David Matthews
    David Matthews’ That They Might Lovely Be takes its title from the hymn My Song is Love Unknown by the seventeenth century hymn writer Samuel Crossman. But it takes more than just a title because this excellent first novel is also about love unknown, about sin and its consequences, about grief and even about redemption. Although there is war (the novel is set in rural Britain in the twin times of the 1920s and 1940s), suicide, loneliness and despair, it is a deeply hopeful novel. The setting is imbued with that fin de siècle sense of the passing of one age and the dawning of another including a degree of class conflict and the end of old moral certainties as well as the desperate desire to try and continue what has come to an end.
    The story is romantic but is far more than just a romance. The mute son of the schoolmaster - who may or may not really be the illegitimate son of his spinster daughter - is at the heart of the novel. The mystery of his origin and the projection onto that mystery of the hopes and fears of others provide part of the dramatic movement but more crucial is the development of his character as he discovers speech, grows and eventually is able to form a mature relationship; escaping from the claustrophobic family home and seeing his first adopted refuge destroyed by war.
    This is a very good read. The dialogue is particularly well written and realistic, the era is evoked perfectly and without artificial information being used to prop up the action. It might seem unkind to describe the book as perfect material for a film or mini-series because it works so well as a novel. A delight to read. ~ Fr Richard Peers

  • That They Might Lovely Be
    David Matthews
    The action of the book is framed very pleasingly by the two wars. I really liked the reverse structure and the way it gives up the characters' secrets and the central mystery of the vexed parentage of Bertie slowly and gradually. The reader has to work quite hard in the opening chapters to fix the characters and fill in what is unsaid. But that is as it should be and is one of the book's chief pleasures. I thought David Matthews got the women just right and there were so many memorable scenes. He caught the period very convincingly and without any obvious set-dressing. The dialogue felt true to its time but natural - there wasn't a false note anywhere. I'm not sure how David Matthews managed to pull off the unlikeliest romance imaginable and somehow make it joyful and honest but it was a great relief after the dysfunction and repression depicted throughout. He has managed the trickiest of doubles - a literary page-turner with a heart and a brain. ~ Clare Chambers, author of In a Good Light, The Editor's Wife

  • That They Might Lovely Be
    David Matthews
    Although the title is taken from the well known hymn “My Song is Love Unknown”, at first glance, this does not appear to be a love story. Nor does it, or indeed is it, in spite of the title, a particularly religious work. Rather, because of the intrigue and retrospective timeline, it is more of a mystery.

    The story begins dramatically with a World War II plane crashing into and destroying a house with the possibility of the occupants being killed. But that is not the peak of the situation, rather the bland reaction to the news of Delia and her father to the possible loss of Anstace and Bertie.

    Bertie is Delia’s much younger brother, or possibly her own child, raised by her parents to avoid scandal, that is part of the mystery, together with why Bertie, a mute, spontaneously one Easter began to sing the eponymous hymn.

    The story gently takes the reader back through time to gradually reveal the events that led to the present situation and there is very little second guessing as to how these intriguing circumstances came about.

    The writing switches quite seamlessly from the usual third person narrative, to intriguing letters, where one has to read between the lines to follow the story. Then again, we are treated to an eavesdropping style of chatter, where it is necessary to draw conclusions from the local gossip.

    Although the story is surprisingly dark in places, it is nevertheless a sparkling read, with carefully observed situations that fit well their timeline and location. Each of the characters is skilfully drawn and, while at first it would seem hard to understand the motivation of a few of the main protagonist s, all is eventually revealed and no loose ends are left dangling in respect of their behaviour.

    Overall, a satisfying and captivating book, that paints a realistic picture of life during two world wars and the aftermath that such conflicts can cause to any person caught up in hostilities not of their making. ~ Eliza Jones, former editor Newslink Magazine

  • Farmhouse in the Rain, A
    Joe Kilgore
    A Farmhouse in the Rain, by Joe Kilgore, is unquestionably a five star piece of writing. A story about dreams, aspirations, love, war, unbroken romance and the darker side of human vengeance and cowardly and debased criminality. It is a novel that has it all – appealing to the human spirit on every level. The story is character-driven, while thematically holding the reader to the very last page. The quality of the writing is excellent and shows that the author not only commands the English language, but has a flair for metaphors and descriptive allegory. In spite of the fact that the first half of the story takes place during the later-part of World War II, it is not a grim or violent read – but rather, the story of several young men, each from different worlds, who come together under the hand of war, who survive by their wits and who find themselves leaving the war zone with a horrible and haunting secret. From there, the author does a wonderful job of showing how, in the post-war years, they fare in life and love, and how, by the most unpredictable of circumstances, their paths cross once again. A few lines are worthy of mention here, because they show the color and depth of the prose the author uses throughout the story.

    Highly recommended. A taunting and compelling read that will remind you that people are connected in ways which are not entirely explicable – and possibly that love is the most powerful force in the world. ~ International Writers Inspiring Change, https://writersinspiringchange.wordpress.com/2017/02/21/iwic-book-review-of-a-farmhouse-in-the-rain-by-joe-kilgore/

  • Little Wagons, The
    Crozier Green
    "The Little Wagons: The Traumatic Birth of Sicily's Cosa Nostra" is a fictional novel in which author Crozier Green deftly captures the turmoil of late nineteenth-century Sicily, when the reverse alchemy of greed and violence forever changed the emerging Cosa Nostra from benevolent organization dedicated to protecting the popular from foreign invasion and oppression, into corrupted Mafia that enriched its members through extortion, murder, and all manner of crime. The horrors of slavery and oppression forged revolutions and rebels in equal measure, and within this cornucopia of nepotism and brutality, hostility and passion are pitted against endemic hegemony. With protagonists as fiery as Mount Etna itself, and equally unpredictable, "The Little Wagons" shows how poverty and despair become the omnipotent catalysts of vengeful change. With an impressive attention to historical accuracy in detail and background, "The Little Wagons" is a consistently compelling read from cover to cover. While unreservedly recommended for community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Little Wagons" is also available in a Kindle format. ~ Midwest Book Review

  • No Safe Anchorage
    Liz MacRae Shaw
    Liz MacRae Shaw can spin a yarn like few others.'No Safe Anchorage' is the sort of book you look forward to returning to. The historic frame is graphic and memorable. The frightening collapse of the young Robert Louis Stevenson on a remote Hebridean island at the start of the book, Tom's dramatic encounter with the fisher lassies and his quarrel with his fierce but admirable sister Emma set the scene for the sweeping adventure to follow. This adventure takes him from the Hebrides to Canada. Along the way Tom meets and makes relationships, good and bad with a wide span of characters. ~ Jenny Salaman Manson, editor and author

  • No Safe Anchorage
    Liz MacRae Shaw
    'No Safe Anchorage' is a great second novel by Liz MacRae Shaw. Set in the mid-nineteenth century in and around the Isle of Skye, and moving on to Canada, we follow the life of a naval officer, Tom Masters, a square peg in a round hole. His childhood experiences, slowly revealed, loss of a close friend and awakening sexuality make for a very strong central character. Neatly woven in is part of the life of Robert Louis Stevenson who might be described as a similarly round peg within his lighthouse building family. ~ Linda Henderson, author and editor

  • No Safe Anchorage
    Liz MacRae Shaw
    An evocative and fast-moving tale set in Skye and the West Highlands before moving to Canada, 'No Safe Anchorage', like its title, swirls with danger. It invokes the spirit of Robert Louis Stevenson whose childhood it portrays. With its sharp use of dialogue and tight, concise description, it also conjures up that writer in other ways, creating an adventure story that is as breathless and exciting as some of that nineteenth century novelist's work. ~ Donald S Murray

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