Hold the Faith

Early Christianity Comes to Life, The Apostle John series

Christian - Historical Fiction
368 Pages
Reviewed on 12/05/2015
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Most days you will find Susan Preston sitting in front of her computer, in Western Australia, writing or researching, and rechecking facts before they go into her fiction series of life at the dawn of Christianity.
Susan’s writing talent surfaced in her early school years, then life, raising a family, moving from Scotland to Western Australia, intervened. That talent did not go away, just lay dormant. She ran a weekly church girls club, co-coordinated children’s holiday camps, was the co-author of a children’s church program, and wrote a help book for children, ‘We Are Divorced’.
Circumstances led to a change of direction, that of being a registered Trainer and Assessor, and employment as a computer and software trainer. There, her talents spread to writing ‘help’ books – with all steps shown.
Then came an ‘aha’ moment. A detailed Bible study series on the gospel of John, led to Susan ‘seeing’ the people behind the story. Gigabytes of research later, Susan had a database of life in the 1st century AD. Her goal is to ‘put flesh on Biblical characters’ but stay true to Biblical teaching.
All of this has gone into the Apostle John series of books, of which Hold the Faith is the first. She skillfully weaves Biblical records, history, into an intriguing series of novels. The characters became ‘family’ to her, and she has been known to cry over what happens to them.
Currently she is working on book four, and admits that there may be a book five.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Ray Simmons for Readers' Favorite

Hold the Faith: Early Christianity Comes to Life, The Apostle John series by Susan MB Preston tells the story of John. John is the author of what many people consider the definitive gospel on the life of Christ. I read and studied this gospel and most of the Bible as a boy growing up in Alabama. I often found myself wishing I knew more about the lives of the people mentioned. I realized that these people lived with rules very different from ours and I wished I knew more about that life. Bible verses are terse and usually give the bare minimum of description, mostly just concentrating on telling the reader what occurred. Susan MB Preston has invested a lot of time in historical research to tell the story of John and his family so that we can relate to them as people like us with a family similar to ours.

In my opinion, the author has succeeded admirably. The writing in Hold the Faith is top notch. The details of life in 92 AD are descriptive and bring the past to life. Susan MB Preston shows us the stress between the followers of Jesus and the Orthodox Jews. We see the pain and politics of the Roman occupation of Ephesus in Asia Minor, but just as importantly we see the daily life of ordinary people. John is old by 92 AD and we see most of this story through the eyes of his great-grandson Benjamin, and other young people. The characters are portrayed very well, bringing a new perspective to an old story. Susan MB Preston has done a great service for Christians everywhere by bringing this story to life.

Diane Horschak

October 2015
Wonderful story. I read it twice. I was so involved with the young mans journey following 'the way' around the year 95 AD. There are so many lessons that are still so valuable. The book is considered fiction, yet I found a lot of truth taught. Very easy reading, and the story line moves along well. I finished this book in tears, as I felt awful for some events the young man was challenged to face. Yet I realized that people really have not changed so much over the centuries. I am sure that the events might very well have happened historically, or similar events. So, I will be continuing to read this series. I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book so I could give an honest review.

Blessings N' Bloggings

August 2015
A Different Perspective of the Apostle John's Life
It is often very difficult for me to read a fictional account about any of Jesus' disciples as they often feel as though the author is taking too many liberties with their life's story however, Susan M B Preston has written a very compelling story about the later years of the apostle John. Hold the Faith begins in the year 92 A D which would be the later years of John's life, about the time that most biblical scholars believe that the Gospel of John was written. This first book in the series revolves around some of his last known travels and the start of the writing of the Gospel.

Susan does a great job of making John an essential character of the book but he is not always the main focus and she tells the story around a family that he may very well have had. The family she created is very well done, each character is well developed and none of the story line created seems unrealistic or too farfetched to be believed. The historical details are accurate to the time period and she accurately uses scripture throughout the book. There are some small points of beliefs that you may differ with but they in no way take away from the book.

I would recommend the book, it is both historically and biblically accurate and it gives you a perspective of John's life that you may have never considered. For example, him being a mentor to a great-grandson or how his daily life being a well wanted man by the Romans, hate by the Jews and pagans and maintaining himself as a local early church leader was impacted daily. The series will be worth the read and following to the conclusion as you will want to see how Susan furthers her characters and how their lives progress. I personally want to see how she develops Benjamin, his great-grandson, will he marry Deborah or does God have a better possibility for him with the Rachel, the granddaughter of 'Old Simon'?

This book was given to me by Susan M B Preston for my honest review.

Lillian Ammann (Lillie)

August 2015
I really loved this book, especially the character Benjamin as well as John. It was especially interesting to me as I have been in a Bible study on the book of Revelation, and when John and Benjamin travel to visit the various churches they see the things that Jesus commends and reproves in his revelation to John.

The story itself was definitely worth 5 stars, but I almost marked it down because of some grammar errors and awkward sentences, as well as a number of strange uses of quotation marks. However, the story itself was so compelling that I ignored these issues.

I didn't want the story to end and look forward to the next book in the series. The story reached a logical conclusion, so it wasn't the kind of cliffhanger ending that I hate, but it did leave a lot of questions and created a desire to know more.

The author provided me a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Comments
Susan M B Preston4 days ago
Thank you Lillie. I have been through the manuscript and found those error and corrected them. I appreciate you pointing them out.
Susan Preston

Lillian Ammann (Lillie)4 days ago
Susan,
As an editor, I know how hard it is to get all (or even most) of the errors. I appreciate that you made the effort to go back to find and correct errors.

C Brant

August 2015
This was a very well written and engaging story. It was exciting and educational at the same time. It is sometimes hard to imagine what life was like for the early Christian church. This book makes it all come to life in vivid color!

There really is no better way to learn about a period of history than hearing a story about it. Now, it is true that some of the characters were fictional. However, that is very helpful in trying to get a better grip on what life was like back then.

I can't wait to read the next one in the series. I know Susan is working on the 4th one. So, I better get reading.

Kathy Scott

July 2015
I read a lot about history and the facts told in this book about that era are correct. From the beginning the author held my attention. This is a book I could not stop reading, I loved every page, I believe this story offers a wonderful perspective on the events which shaped the direction of the early church. With anticipation we wait for the next book in this series. I loved it.

Ceeka

July 2015
The book is a must read for any who like Chrstan historical fiction. Liked t so much I bought the second book in the series... was provided a complementary comply of this book in exchange for an honest review....honestly... would have bought the book anyway...travel with the last Apostle ,John , and see with your minds eye what the early church was really like.