Return to Me (The Restoration Chronicles Book #1)

Return to Me (The Restoration Chronicles Book #1)

4.8 31
by Lynn Austin

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Bestselling Author Lynn Austin Launches New Biblical Saga

After years of watching his children and grandchildren wander from their faith, Iddo's prayers are answered: King Cyrus is allowing God's chosen people to return to Jerusalem. Jubilant, he joyfully prepares for their departure, only to learn that his family, grown comfortable in the pagan culture…  See more details below


Bestselling Author Lynn Austin Launches New Biblical Saga

After years of watching his children and grandchildren wander from their faith, Iddo's prayers are answered: King Cyrus is allowing God's chosen people to return to Jerusalem. Jubilant, he joyfully prepares for their departure, only to learn that his family, grown comfortable in the pagan culture of Babylon, wants to remain.

Zechariah, Iddo's oldest grandson, feels torn between his grandfather's ancient beliefs and the comfort and success his father enjoys in Babylon. But he soon begins to hear the voice of God, encouraging him to return to the land given to his forefathers.

Bringing to life the biblical books of Ezra and Nehemiah, Return to Me tells the compelling story of Iddo and Zechariah, the women who love them, and the faithful followers who struggle to rebuild their lives in obedience to the God who beckons them home.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Almost 70 years after the fall of Jerusalem, a new Babylonian king releases the captive Jews and mandates that they return and rebuild God's temple in the remains of the Holy City. Iddo, who witnessed the fall as a child, is overjoyed to return home, but his children were born in Babylon and refuse to leave the pagan city. Undeterred, Iddo, wife Dinah, and grandson Zechariah make the months-long trek with thousands of other Jews, only to find a hostile welcome from the Samaritans who make the land around Jerusalem their home. As years pass, the immigrants face daily challenges to their faith as they listen for God's voice to lead them over the next 30 years. VERDICT Eight-time Christy Award-winning author Austin (Hidden Places; Wonderland Creek) launches a powerful new historical series that brings the Old Testament books of Ezra and Nehemiah to life. This work is sure to attract fans of Francine Rivers's biblical series ("The Mark of the Lion"; "Sons of Encouragement").

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Baker Publishing Group
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Restoration Chronicles , #1
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Return to Me 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 31 reviews.
Teresa_Konopka More than 1 year ago
This book was a superb read that was immensely well-written.  Starting off with a scene where the Babylonian king consults Daniel, the story hits the ground running.  After the reader understands that the Babylonian empire is about to crumble, the story quickly transitions into the Persians taking over.  Readers follow Babylonian exiles Iddo, Zechariah, Dinah, Yael, Yeshua, and others--some characters biblical and some fictitious.  When King Cyrus declares that the Jews can return to Jerusalem to rebuild their Temple, there is indecisiveness.  Some Jews stay and some Jews leave.  Zechariah leaves his father behind as he follows his grandfather Iddo to the forsaken Promised Land.  There is drama between Iddo and his wife as she does not want to leave Babylon.  Yael is a prime character as she is a young girl that is friend to the young Zechariah.  I should point out that Zechariah and his family age throughout the book--readers see Zechariah go from a young boy to a full grown man.  Anyway, Yael is ensconced in sorcery and eventually begins to mingle with the Samaritans neighboring Jerusalem who are incredibly hostile to the Jews.  Yael is an insider of sorts because the Samaritans honor her for her abilities as a "seer" who can tell the future "by the stars."  Tension grows as religious Zechariah--training to be a priest--falls in love with Yael, a sorcerer condemned by the Torah.  I liked how Austin wrote about pagan ways but kept it relatable.  In the 21st century, not many readers can relate to the thought of multiple gods, but people can certainly relate to the danger and temptation of psychics and astrology that is still popular today even in America.  I won't give the entire book away, but the suspense will keep you turning the pages as you wonder what Zechariah will do--what he will compromise and what he will not when it comes to his faith.  You also will wonder what will happen to Iddo and Dinah's marriage.  Many important faith questions come up as dialog goes back and forth between characters who support and oppose the work of the Jews.  On a side note, readers will understand much better exactly who the Samaritans are that are mentioned in the Bible as this historical book gives a good backdrop to the history of the Samaritans and the Jews.  Also woven into this story are Zechariah's dreams written in the Bible.  What I loved is how Austin wrote the book to relate some of Zechariah's dreams to troubles going on in his life.  Now, when it comes to dreams and prophecy, it's hard to know what is really meant.  However, the American public sometimes goes overboard trying to over-spiritualize everything while ignoring context.  This book puts context to a lot of what is written in the Bible while adding some literary freedom, of course.  While characters like Ezra and Nehemiah aren't mentioned in this book, it packs a lot of time and history into its pages.  I can not recommend this book enough.  There is drama, romance, action, redemption, spirituality, and so much more.         
AngelN1 More than 1 year ago
 I typically don't read novels set in the Old Testament, and in the past I had read a few that were not very good.  When this book arrived, I put off reading it for a week, wondering again why I had picked it.  Finally, I started it, and I was quickly enthralled.  The book is set during the return of the Jews from Babylon to Jerusalem, where they are to rebuild the temple.  I did recall the Biblical account, but this book brings the episode to life in a way I'd never experienced.  The main characters are Iddo, a man faithful to the law but fearful of God, his wife Dinah, who doesn't really want to leave the only home she's ever known, their grandson Zechariah, and Yael, a friend's daughter who has been heavily influenced by a Babylonian seer.  The trials of faith of these characters is multi-facteted.  The author took great care in creating characters with depth, and the setting and way the people lived is also very well done.  Although the book is more than 400 pages, it never dragged or seemed to be taking too long.  This book would be a great choice for a book club or Sunday school discussion.  I highly recommend it.  I received this book from Bethany House for a review, but my opinions are my own.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lynn Austin's books always uplift me. I dare say she is THE Master of modern biblical history in fictional tales. Based on scripture. The Jewish people in exile in Babylon have been released to go back home to Jerusalem by King Cyrus of Babylon. They are given the funding to rebuild Yahweh's Temple. This is their story. Book one of the much anticipated new series. I can't wait to buy the next one ! What a blessing Ms. Austin has been to me to share her biblical knowledge with me . I love these books and I follow along after each book with my Bible. This book was more than the first series, but the books are so wonderful that they are worth every penny.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've waited for at least a year for a new book by this author, and this one was worth waiting for. It was a good read and faith building. bring us more!
ruthhill74 More than 1 year ago
Let me say from the outset that this is easily the best Biblical fiction book I have ever read. I am only familiar with the story of the return from exile and the rebuilding of the temple from the Biblical narrative, and I had forgotten many of the details. It is a story we often gloss over, and I have never studied it in great detail. This insightful, well-researched, and expertly written book captures the story, but it goes beyond that. The reader will be invited to make an emotional connection with the story and the extraordinary characters the author has woven into the fabric of this tale. There are two themes that unquestionably captured my attention in this book. First of all, the tension surrounding the Jews not wanting to leave Babylon is a dramatic illustration of the Christian walk and our reluctance to leave the world behind. I was thoroughly touched at the depiction of the Samaritans, and I almost found myself in tears as I read about their horrendous acts. But I then realized that we Christians do the same thing. We won't give up the world that we have grown accustomed to in exchange for the life God wants us to have. The second theme truly blessed me. All too often, we look at the Old Testament and see laws, rules, and a God who is just waiting for us to break one so He can chastise us. That seems to be the Old Testament Jewish mindset. However, this book features an Old Testament Jew who finds what God has promised all along--forgiveness, mercy, and love. Not to give anything away, this character realizes he cannot keep the law, and he realizes that it is only through God that he can be saved. I was so inspired to read that a Jew discovered the secret of salvation even before Christ came, and this was an alluring portion of the story. This is history, and it never comes across as being preachy. How can it when one of the main characters practices sorcery quite profoundly? It is realistically written, and it stays true to the Biblical account in spite of the obvious fictional insertions. I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I was not financially compensated, and all opinions are 100 percent mine.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I cannot tell you how excited I was for this book to come out! Lynn Austin has become one of my favorite authors of all time. I eagerly await her new releases and am never disappointed. When I saw that she was doing another series based off of the Bible I could barely contain myself. And I'm pretty sure there was literal jumping for joy when I found out Bethany House was going to send me a copy to review! This story is based off of the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. If you aren’t familiar with these guys in the bible I’ll give you a quick recap. The nation of Judah had been hanging out in exile for the last 70 years. They were in Babylon and the Persians came and took over the nation of Babylon. There are always changes that go on when a nation conquers another nation. And the big change was that the king was releasing all of the Jews to go back to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. Jerusalem had been completely destroyed when Babylon conquered it originally. And now God has kept his promise by getting his people out of exile and returning them to the promise land. However, 70 years is a long time. People were really conformable in Babylon. So not that many people obeyed God and returned. And the ones that did were met with hostile neighbors and lots of unexpected obstacles to get the temple built. That’s the short version. For the entire story, you can find it in your Bible and also in Return to Me. What I love about Return to Me is that Lynn Austin takes a story I have read and reread in the Bible and puts emotion behind it. Now keep in mind this is a fictional piece of work. However, she has done her homework well. The events that happened in the book really happened in the Bible. Sometimes when you read the Bible, especially the Old Testament, it can seem less than thrilling. “Zechariah was the son of Berekiah. Berekiah was the son of Iddo…” it’s very easy to pass over these names. Lynn Austin gives a face and a personality to each of these men. Another thing that makes this book worth reading is that you get a full story. What I mean by that is this: all the people and prophets that are involved in this time and place are in the story; they intermingle. Sometimes it can be hard to place together who exactly the prophets were talking to. Or what was going on when they got a word from God. In this book they all come together so beautifully that you feel more knowledgeable about the Minor Prophets. I always enjoy a book more when I am also learning something while I read. In this book you learn more about the Bible (score!) and you learn historical things that you wouldn’t have ever thought about. Exactly how did they go about rebuilding the temple? It’s not like they had power tools and big giant bulldozers to do things. But the best thing about this book is that once I read it, I got my Bible out to see what was fact, and what was fiction. And I imagine that that was probably Lynn Austin’s goal. The story is well written. She takes the time to develop the characters in a way that you feel like you personally know them. You understand their heartaches and their joy. You want them to succeed. I’ll be honest; I am not typically a fan of “Biblical Fiction” but this book, is worth your time. I highly recommend it.
Diana0 More than 1 year ago
Return to Me By: Lynn Austin Return to Me is a Biblical and fiction historical story about the return of the Jews to Jerusalem. King Cyrus was allowing them to leave and to come back to their homeland. Permission was also given to rebuild the temple. God’s chosen people the Jews. Story told of two men living by faith in midst of everyone’s doubt, the women who love them and are faithful struggling to rebuild their lives in being obedient to God. Reading it bought the stories back in my mind. I think it was well written by Lynn Austin. First I have read by her. I would say very close to God’s word. If you like Biblical Fiction it is the book for you.
Bookworm_Debbie More than 1 year ago
An awesome Biblical fiction novel! I received a free copy of this book from The Book Club Network in exchange for my honest opinion. After decades of exile, the prophesies are coming true – King Cyrus has declared that the Jews may return to Jerusalem. There are a handful of the returnees who remember the final siege and destruction of Jerusalem. Most of them though were born in exile. Will what they have been taught about the Almighty One give them the strength and the courage to follow and trust Him? Iddo and his wife Dinah are one of the families that are returning. Iddo has been looking forward to this day since he was taken into captivity as a boy. He is from the priestly lineage and has studied the Torah his whole life preparing to minister in the temple. The only problem is that as a captive of Babylon there has never been a temple to minister in. Dinah was born in captivity and all she knows is life in Babylon. The emotional conflict that develops between these two is so well crafted that my heart ached for both of them as they tried to navigate the path that they are set on. I am amazed at the incredible amount of research that had to have been done in preparation to write this fantastic fictional account of Biblical history. There are numerous characters who are at different points in their belief of God. Each of them is well fleshed out and presented. Their relationships with each other are very easy to understand. They have very clear points of contention with each other as well as very deep connections.  This story paints a very clear picture of what life was like trying to please God under the Abrahamic covenant and the law given to Moses. It made me very glad that I live now, under the new covenant of grace and mercy. Where our right standing with God comes through faith in Jesus Christ and the free gift we are offered by His death and resurrection.
dgottreu More than 1 year ago
Return to Me by Lynn Austin is a great Biblical and historical story about the return of the Jews to Jerusalem when King Cyrus of Babylon permitted them to leave and return to their homeland. He also gave them permission to rebuild the temple and promised to help with the expenses of rebuilding. Iddo is a priest who has been praying for years for the return of the Jews to Jerusalem but his family has grown comfortable in Babylon and have strayed from God. At the beginning of the story Iddo comes off as rather pompous and determined to get his own way in all matters. His wife asked Iddo how she could believe in God’s love when all he ever emphasized was God’s laws and wrath and did not talk about the love and forgiveness of God.. Iddo’s oldest grandson, Zechariah, is torn between staying in Babylon with his parents and their comfortable way of life and the beliefs of his grandfather. After hearing God’s voice, Zechariah decides to return to Jerusalem. The rebuilding of the temple is begun but is constantly beset with problems. Many of the problems are caused by the Samaritans who resent the return of the Jews. King Cyrus dies and his son orders the rebuilding to stop. After many years the prophet Haggai comes on the scene and encourages the people to again start the rebuilding of the temple. Shortly after Haggai comes to Jerusalem, Zechariah is called to be a prophet. Dinah, Iddo’s wife, and Yael, a young girl when the story begins, play a large role in the story. The author did an excellent job with all elements of the story, Just for my own information I checked several things in the Bible and it is very evident that Lynn Austin did her research before writing this book. The story came to life for me and I was transported back to Jerusalem along with all the characters. In the description of the journey from Babylon to Jerusalem, I was trudging right along with the travelers. All the scenes in the story were very well written and I felt a part of each one and was living the story right along with the main characters. All the characters came to life and I felt as if I knew everyone of them personally, even some of them as good friends. If you are familiar with the Bible then you know how the story ends but reading the story as written by the author makes for a most enjoyable read. I highly recommend this book to everyone that enjoys a great historical story set in Biblical times. Bethany House provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
Becky_D More than 1 year ago
I’m prefacing this review with this statement: “Lynn Austin is a wonderful writer – her prose is lyrical, her voice is strong and literary, and she is a master of satisfactory reads.” Return to Me is a fascinating history lesson told in fiction form. As usual, Lynn’s ability to create place is excellent, and her cast of characters, although large, is unique. She writes about a time period in Biblical history that is sometimes difficult to comprehend, but she unwraps these events in a way that brings the characters and setting to life. This book was not what I expected, and in all honesty, it didn’t quite measure up to what I’ve come to expect from Lynn. It took me a long time to sink into the story, and I think part of that is because there was so much historical information imparted to set the stage for the story itself. It really did feel like a history lesson, and although it was probably necessary to understand the premise for the book (and most likely for the whole series), I felt like the story really started once Iddo and his family returned to Jerusalem and Zechariah began to come into his own in his pursuit of God’s calling for his life. My inability to connect could have been for other reasons, too–the story started out focusing on the relationship between an old man and a young boy, something that was difficult for me to relate to. There was another main character I struggled with throughout the whole book, even though I knew I was supposed to care for him/her deeply, and that made it hard for me to understand the other main character(s) draw to him/her. (I’m being careful in order to avoid a spoiler alert.) However, I’m anxious to read the next book in the series. By the end of the book, Lynn did a beautiful job of drawing me into the story, and I’m now rather intrigued by this time period and what she has to write about it. I DO RECOMMEND THIS BOOK, but read it with the understanding that this might be more of the “groundwork” book in the whole series. I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was such a blessing. The highs and lows were your own. I almost didn't finish because I was so caught up. I couldn't understand why God's people continued to disobey him; I was that frustrated. I would have sent them back to Babylon, but God is merciful. His love endures forever. "Return to Me" should definitely be a required reading to correllate with our own time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed Return to Me. It gives the reader the prophet Zechariah early years of life might of been. The main theme is God is still asking us to return to Him before its too late. For us to get it together & serve /worship Him only!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was awesome. I could not put it down. took me 3 days to read.
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Bus-driverRS More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best books I have read in a long time. Can't wait to read book two of the series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have learned so much from reading this book. It seems as if your actually talking to them and know what they are going through. You can almost smell the thing around you. I will definitely read the following books. I have read the Chronicles series by her. Keep up the good work.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I received this book free from Bethany House /Baker Publishing Group. Great book!! If you are looking for a book that is about the Old Testament and really brings it to life this book is for you! It is a longer book but well worth reading! You really felt like you were right there with the characters while you are reading the book. Makes you want to read more by this author!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
wonderful book. Learned a lot about the bible and made the scriptures come alive. I couldn't put it down
Lane_Hill_House More than 1 year ago
Monday, November 4, 2013 Return to Me by Lynn Austin, ©2013 The Restoration Chronicles, Book 1 "Return to me," declares the Lord Almighty, "and I will return to you." --Zechariah 1:3 The writing on the wall... Daniel is summoned to read the inscription written there on the wall of the palace banquet hall of King Belshazzar, second in line to his father King Nabonidas, and grandson of King Nebuchadnezzar; three generations of pagan kings of Babylon, the doomed kingdom. Daniel tells the king of his coming demise and fall of the Babylon kingdom to the Medes and Persians. Book 1 of The Restoration Chronicles tells about return of the Jews from captivity in Babylon, fulfilling God's promise to Israel to bring them back to their Promised Land, and the Second Temple being built. Seventy years have passed. Being content with their lives and ones being born there, not all family members left Babylon; separating families. Persian guards go with them to see the remnant returned to Jerusalem. They are accosted by the Samaritans who are living in the area left idle through three generations. The poor of the land were left when the Israelites were taken into captivity by the Babylonians. They were to be vinedressers and farmers. One part I found interesting was the mention of trees not being there when they exiled, making it unrecognizable as the land left. The influence of the Babylonians drew some away from God. They became indifferent. The rebuilding of the Temple slowed. Lives are restored. The original decree is upheld and the temple is completed. The story is in four sections: Part 1, Babylon; Part 2, Promised Land; Part 3, Jerusalem, and Part 4, The Temple. Summary: "After years in exile, Iddo and his grandson Zechariah follow God's leading home to Jerusalem, where they struggle to rebuild their lives and God's temple—bringing to life the biblical books of Ezra and Nehemiah." --Provided by publisher ***Thank you to Book Fun ~ The Book Club Network Inc. and Bethany House Publishers for sending me a copy of Lynn Austin's Return to Me to review. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***
Lisa57 More than 1 year ago
I love Lynn Austin. I own all of her books. This newest series she is starting is wonderful. I can't wait until book two is released. I always am drawn into her stories. She tells a believable fictional story around historical facts. I especially love that she is a Christian author. However she weaves scripture into her books without being "preachy" or boring. After each of her books I always hold her book next to my chest and whisper a thank you for another life enhancing story. Thanks Lynn Austin! Lisa in Twin Falls, Idaho
MitziAB More than 1 year ago
Although I like all of Lynn Austin's novels, I really think that her biblical novels are her best niche. In this one, I felt I was walking beside Zaki throughout the story, seeing both Babylon and Jerusalem through his eyes, and with his thoughts and feelings. I have always felt that the story of the Isrealites parallels a Christian's life from being in captivity (in our case to sin) to wandering in the wilderness and eventually arriving the Promised Land. As such, I could see that the distractions the Jewish people faced after they left Babylon to rebuild the temple at Jerusalem are only slightly different in nature to ours today. And as patient and loving as God was then, not forsaking them even when they did not obey (is not slow obedience is no obedience at all?) He will wait for us today. Well written, as all of Lynn Austin”s novels are, and definitely worth your time. Not a suspense story, yet I kept turning the pages to see how Zaki would respond to the challenges facing him. This story resonated with me and I found a new appreciation for Biblical novels, God's love for me and for the Jewish nation.  "Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group." 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Beautiful, Touching Novel Brings the Bible to Life From the first book I read by Lynn Austin, I have been a fan of her captivating way of bringing history to life through beautiful writing and intriguing plots. Return to Me is the first book in Austin’s new series The Restoration Chronicles that tells the Biblical story of the Israelites returning to Jerusalem from Babylonian captivity to rebuild their temple. Beginning with an intense preface, Lynn Austin introduces us to the legendary Daniel of the Lion’s Den who has grown old in Babylonian captivity. As an advisor to Babylonian kings, Daniel introduces Austin’s story of King Cyrus’s unexpected announcement that some Israelites might return to their promised land. Although I haven’t read Austin’s other Biblical novels, I was impressed with her attention to historical detail and Biblical knowledge. I loved how she seamlessly wove Biblical text into the narrative to substantiate her story. While many of the everyday details of her characters’ lives are fictional, Austin uses real Biblical people to adroitly capture the essence of the personal and societal conflicts that the returning Israelites faced. Iddo, like Daniel, grew old in captivity and he could never forget the horror of the exile. Iddo’s children only know Babylon and when they are invited to return to Jerusalem, they decline. Iddo’s one grandson, Zechariah, although young, returns to build the temple with his priestly grandfather. Following the joyous announcement, the pilgrims return to Jerusalem to find devastation, famine, and animosity from locals. Austin cleverly tells of their struggles, heartaches, sorrows, and determination to build a temple and restore proper worship of their God. While Return to Me was not a heart stopper read, it was a touching, beautiful story of love—love of people for their neighbors and love of a people for their God. Bethany House Publishing sent me a complimentary copy of Return to Me by Lynn Austin to review.