Tag Archives: Tessa Afshar

First Line Friday — Daughter of Rome

7 Feb

Happy Friday! Today I am featuring Daughter of Rome by Tessa Afshar, Biblical fiction that explores the life of Priscilla, a disciple who lived in the 1st century. Tessa has taken the scant account of her life and ministry and created a beautiful novel that is relevant to today’s readers. In addition, I have a copy of Daughter of Rome to give away! Just click HERE to enter.

 

For more fabulous first lines be sure to check out Hoarding Books.

 

When the daughter of a prominent Roman general meets a disinherited Jewish immigrant, neither one can dream of God’s plan to transform them into the most influential couple of the early church. Nor can they anticipate the mountains that will threaten to bury them. Their courtship unwittingly shadowed by murder and betrayal, Priscilla and Aquila slowly work to build a community of believers, while their lives grow increasingly complicated thanks to a shaggy dog, a mysterious runaway, and a ruthless foe desperate for love. But when they’re banished from their home by a capricious emperor, they must join forces with an unusual rabbi named Paul and fight to turn treachery into redemption.

With impeccable research and vivid detail, Daughter of Rome is both an emotive love story and an immersive journey through first-century Rome and Corinth, reminding readers once again why Debbie Macomber has said that “no one brings the Bible to life like Tessa Afshar.”

Tessa Afshar is the award-winning author of many biblical and inspirational historical fiction books, including Harvest of Gold which won a Christy Award and In the Field of Grace, a biblical fiction on the life of Ruth. Born in the Middle East, Tessa spent her teen years in England and later moved to the United States. Her conversion to Christianity in her twenties changed the course of her life. She holds a Master of Divinity from Yale, where she was co-chair of the Evangelical Fellowship. She served in women and prayer ministry for twenty years before becoming a full-time writer and speaker. Contact Tessa at tessaafshar.com.

 

Book Review + Giveaway! — Daughter of Rome

5 Feb

When the daughter of a prominent Roman general meets a disinherited Jewish immigrant, neither one can dream of God’s plan to transform them into the most influential couple of the early church. Nor can they anticipate the mountains that will threaten to bury them. Their courtship unwittingly shadowed by murder and betrayal, Priscilla and Aquila slowly work to build a community of believers, while their lives grow increasingly complicated thanks to a shaggy dog, a mysterious runaway, and a ruthless foe desperate for love. But when they’re banished from their home by a capricious emperor, they must join forces with an unusual rabbi named Paul and fight to turn treachery into redemption.

With impeccable research and vivid detail, Daughter of Rome is both an emotive love story and an immersive journey through first-century Rome and Corinth, reminding readers once again why Debbie Macomber has said that “no one brings the Bible to life like Tessa Afshar.”

Tessa Afshar is the award-winning author of many biblical and inspirational historical fiction books, including Harvest of Gold which won a Christy Award and In the Field of Grace, a biblical fiction on the life of Ruth. Born in the Middle East, Tessa spent her teen years in England and later moved to the United States. Her conversion to Christianity in her twenties changed the course of her life. She holds a Master of Divinity from Yale, where she was co-chair of the Evangelical Fellowship. She served in women and prayer ministry for twenty years before becoming a full-time writer and speaker. Contact Tessa at tessaafshar.com.

 

My Impressions:

Biblical fiction is a tricky genre — a writer has to balance the scriptural record with the what-ifs of story. Tessa Afshar is one of the best at it, and her newest novel, Daughter of Rome is a great example of why. Set during the days of the early church, this book brought to life a woman who is mentioned several times in the Book of Acts as well as other NT books. Afshar takes the barest of details and weaves a credible and intriguing account of Priscilla and the era in which she lived. If you are a fan of this genre, then Daughter of Rome is a must-read!

With meticulous research, Afshar creates a backstory for Priscilla. Born in Rome, daughter of an acclaimed general, yet on the outside of society, Priscilla is wooed by God. The fictional account of a first century Priscilla will resonate with modern women. Daughter of Rome is a love story between a man and a woman, but more a love story between a woman and her God. Of course, Aquila (always mentioned with Priscilla in the Biblical accounts) plays a large part in the book, but it is really Priscilla and her struggles and victories that take center stage. Afshar has included historical figures in her book, namely Paul, that give it authenticity and believability. The depiction of the day to day of the characters emphasizes their ordinariness — it is really an extraordinary God who transforms their lives. Priscilla faithfully lives a hidden life, a quiet life of sacrifice which proves a great example and motivator for today’s believers. As I read this book, I pondered how much impact today’s church could have if we followed the example of 1st century believers.

Daughter of Rome with its many themes and topics — Jew and Gentile, law and grace, power of prayer, belief in the miraculous — is perfect for book club discussions. In fact, I have chosen this book for a Bible study/book club that I lead. I look forward to a great conversation. So grab this book (and perhaps a few reading friends) and dig in — I think you will love it!

Highly Recommended.

Audience: Adults.

(Thanks to NetGalley for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

Giveaway!

Tessa is generously giving away one copy of Daughter of Rome to one of my readers. Squee! Just leave a comment on why you love Biblical fiction to be entered. I will randomly select a winner on February 20. (US residents only.)

 

 

Happy Release Day! Daughter of Rome by Tessa Afshar

4 Feb

 

Happy release day to Tessa Afshar! Her newest Biblical novel, Daughter of Rome is available today! I have already read this book, and can promise you will love it. (My review will post tomorrow.) I am especially looking forward to sharing it with my Faith And Fiction Bible Study as we look at the Early Church. I found the day to day life of Priscilla and Aquila fascinating, and their interactions with believers and non-believers brought the whole era to life. Besides Priscilla and Aquila, you will meet Paul — he is a fantastic character as Tessa imagines him.

If you are a fan of this genre, make sure to put it at the top of your TBR pile!

When the daughter of a prominent Roman general meets a disinherited Jewish immigrant, neither one can dream of God’s plan to transform them into the most influential couple of the early church. Nor can they anticipate the mountains that will threaten to bury them. Their courtship unwittingly shadowed by murder and betrayal, Priscilla and Aquila slowly work to build a community of believers, while their lives grow increasingly complicated thanks to a shaggy dog, a mysterious runaway, and a ruthless foe desperate for love. But when they’re banished from their home by a capricious emperor, they must join forces with an unusual rabbi named Paul and fight to turn treachery into redemption.

With impeccable research and vivid detail, Daughter of Rome is both an emotive love story and an immersive journey through first-century Rome and Corinth, reminding readers once again why Debbie Macomber has said that “no one brings the Bible to life like Tessa Afshar.”

Tessa Afshar is the award-winning author of many biblical and inspirational historical fiction books, including Harvest of Gold which won a Christy Award and In the Field of Grace, a biblical fiction on the life of Ruth. Born in the Middle East, Tessa spent her teen years in England and later moved to the United States. Her conversion to Christianity in her twenties changed the course of her life. She holds a Master of Divinity from Yale, where she was co-chair of the Evangelical Fellowship. She served in women and prayer ministry for twenty years before becoming a full-time writer and speaker. Contact Tessa at tessaafshar.com.

 

 

February Book Club Picks

1 Feb

I wanted to share the books my book clubs are reading this month.

By The Book loved Crisis Shot by Janice Cantore so much that we could hardly wait to read the next book in the Line of Duty series. We look forward to a great reading experience with suspense novel, Lethal Target. You can join in the fun with our online book club HERE.

My Faith And Fiction Bible Study resumes this month with a look at the early Church as described in the Book of Acts and other NT books. We will also focus on women’s roles, so the novel Daughter of Rome by Tessa Afshar is a great choice. I have already read this book which releases on 2/4/20. Look for my review next week. For our FB page, click HERE.

Hope you can join in on one of our discussions!

 

Police Chief Tess O’Rourke thought she’d taken care of her small town’s drug problem last year. But now Rogue’s Hollow residents are up in arms over a contentious vote on legalizing the sale of marijuana within city limits. And when an eighteen-year-old is found dead of a possible overdose, Tess wonders if the local pot farms might be involved and begins to fear that a new, deadlier drug supply chain has cropped up. As tempers flare and emotions boil over, Tess faces the possibility of losing the town’s support.

With her relationship to Sergeant Steve Logan on shaky ground, Tess could really use a friend, and she feels drawn to Pastor Oliver Macpherson’s quiet presence. But the anger she holds over her father’s death prevents her from embracing his faith and finding peace.

Battling storms within and without, Tess is shocked when a familiar face from her past shows up in town to stir up more trouble. And his threats against Tess may prove lethal.

 

A former Long Beach, California, police officer of twenty-two years, Janice Cantore worked a variety of assignments, including patrol, administration, juvenile investigations, and training. She’s always enjoyed writing and published two short articles on faith at work for Cop and Christ and Today’s Christian Woman before tackling novels. She now lives in a small town in southern Oregon, where she enjoys exploring the forests, rivers, and lakes with her Labrador retrievers, Abbie and Tilly.

Visit Janice’s website at http://www.janicecantore.com and connect with her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/JaniceCantore.

 

When the daughter of a prominent Roman general meets a disinherited Jewish immigrant, neither one can dream of God’s plan to transform them into the most influential couple of the early church. Nor can they anticipate the mountains that will threaten to bury them. Their courtship unwittingly shadowed by murder and betrayal, Priscilla and Aquila slowly work to build a community of believers, while their lives grow increasingly complicated thanks to a shaggy dog, a mysterious runaway, and a ruthless foe desperate for love. But when they’re banished from their home by a capricious emperor, they must join forces with an unusual rabbi named Paul and fight to turn treachery into redemption.

With impeccable research and vivid detail, Daughter of Rome is both an emotive love story and an immersive journey through first-century Rome and Corinth, reminding readers once again why Debbie Macomber has said that “no one brings the Bible to life like Tessa Afshar.”

Tessa Afshar is the award-winning author of many biblical and inspirational historical fiction books, including Harvest of Gold which won a Christy Award and In the Field of Grace, a biblical fiction on the life of Ruth. Born in the Middle East, Tessa spent her teen years in England and later moved to the United States. Her conversion to Christianity in her twenties changed the course of her life. She holds a Master of Divinity from Yale, where she was co-chair of the Evangelical Fellowship. She served in women and prayer ministry for twenty years before becoming a full-time writer and speaker. Contact Tessa at tessaafshar.com.

 

Top 10 Tuesday — Biblical Fiction Covers

28 Jan

I love book covers. The diversity today in cover art is amazing with publishers scoring big time with representing on the front of the book what a reader will find inside. When I saw this week’s Top 10 Tuesday theme — Cover Freebie — I thought it would be fun to showcase a few of my recent Biblical fiction reads. The covers vary with faces of the main character, images of the events described, and covers with the character and the her world. Perhaps the most striking is Tracy Groot’s book Madman with a illustration of the interior mind of the main character.

What do you want in a Biblical fiction cover?

 

For more fun covers, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

 

Top 10 Biblical Fiction Covers

 

Faces

The Heart of The King by Jill Eileen Smith

A Passionate Hope by Jill Eileen Smith

Rebekah by Jill Eileen Smith

Reign by Ginger Garrett

Events

Miriam by Mesu Andrews

Of Fire And Lions by Mesu Andrews

Character And Her World

Daughter of Rome by Tessa Afshar

Land of Silence by Tessa Afshar

Shelter of The Most High by Connilyn Cossette

Inner Life of Character

Madman by Tracy Groot

 

Top 10 Tuesday — Anticipated Books of 2020 (a few months worth at least)

7 Jan

A new year means new books! And although I have shelves full, there is always room for more great books. My list contains novels that I am looking forward to in the next few months. I am an eclectic reader, so the fiction I have listed runs the gamut of genres — something for everyone!

What new book are you looking forward to in 2020?

For more bloggers’ highly anticipated lists, visit That Artsy Reader Girl.

 

Top Anticipated Books of Early 2020

 

Chasing The White Lion by James Hannibal (3/3)

Daughter of Rome by Tessa Afshar (2/4)

  • End Game by Rachel Dylan (released today! Woo hoo!)

 

The Englisch Daughter by Cindy and Erin Woodsmall (4/21)

Fifth Avenue Story Society by Rachel Hauck (2/4)

The Land Beneath Us by Sarah Sundin (2/4)

One Little Lie by Colleen Coble (3/3)

 

Promised Land by Robert Whitlow (1/14)

Starfish Pier by Irene Hannon (3/31)

The Thief of Lanwyn Manor by Sarah E. Ladd (released today!!)

 

Top 10 Tuesday — Winter TBR

17 Dec

We finally have some cool weather here in middle Georgia — cool enough to turn on the gas fireplace for a little bit before it triggers the air conditioning 😉 . But the conditions outside won’t keep me from snuggling with a good book. I have quite the fabulous TBR list going. Are any of my selections on your list as well?

For all the books bloggers will be reading in the coming months, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

 

Top 10 Books on The TBR List

 

Above The Fold by Rachel Scott McDaniel

After losing the love of her life to a big city journalism job, Elissa Tillman pours herself into the suffragette movement and her secretarial work helping keep her father’s Pittsburgh newspaper afloat.

Cole Parker returns to the steel city with the phantom failures of his past nipping his heels. All he asks of the future is a second chance with the woman he once spurned.

The murder of a millionaire offers the perfect chance for Elissa to prove to her father and the world that she’s a serious journalist. But there’s a catch — she has to compete for the story. Against none other than Cole Parker, the very man who shattered her heart.

Daughter of Rome by Tessa Afshar

When the daughter of a prominent Roman general meets a disinherited Jewish immigrant, neither one can dream of God’s plan to transform them into the most influential couple of the early church. Nor can they anticipate the mountains that will threaten to bury them. Their courtship unwittingly shadowed by murder and betrayal, Priscilla and Aquila slowly work to build a community of believers, while their lives grow increasingly complicated thanks to a shaggy dog, a mysterious runaway, and a ruthless foe desperate for love. But when they’re banished from their home by a capricious emperor, they must join forces with an unusual rabbi named Paul and fight to turn treachery into redemption.

With impeccable research and vivid detail, Daughter of Rome is both an emotive love story and an immersive journey through first-century Rome and Corinth, reminding readers once again why Debbie Macomber has said that “no one brings the Bible to life like Tessa Afshar.”

Echoes among The Stones by Jaime Jo Wright

After Aggie Dunkirk’s career is unceremoniously ended by her own mistakes, she finds herself traveling to Wisconsin, where her grandmother, Mumsie, lives alone in her rambling old home. She didn’t plan for how eccentric Mumsie has become, obsessing over an old, unsolved crime scene–even going so far as to re-create it in the dollhouse.

Mystery seems to follow her when she finds work as a secretary helping to restore the flooded historical part of the cemetery. Forced to work with the cemetery’s puzzling, yet attractive archeologist, she exhumes the past’s secrets and unwittingly uncovers a crime that some will go to any length to keep quiet–even if it means silencing Aggie.

In 1946, Imogene Flannigan works in a local factory and has eyes on owning her own beauty salon. But coming home to discover her younger sister’s body in the attic changes everything. Unfamiliar with the newly burgeoning world of criminal forensics and not particularly welcomed as a woman, Imogene is nonetheless determined to stay involved. As her sister’s case grows cold, Imogene vows to find justice . . . even if it costs her everything.

End Game by Rachel Dylan

When elite members of the military are murdered on the streets of Washington, DC, FBI Special Agent Bailey Ryan and NCIS Special Agent Marco Agostini must work together to bring the perpetrator to justice. Unfortunately, all evidence points to a Navy SEAL sniper whom Bailey refuses to believe is guilty.

When Bailey and Marco start to connect the dots between the victims, including a link to a powerful defense contractor, they wonder if there’s a deeper cover-up at play. Then Bailey is targeted, and it becomes clear that someone is willing to kill to keep their dark secrets.

With the stakes getting higher by the moment in a twisted conspiracy, there’s a rush against the clock to determine whom they can really trust. As allies turn to enemies, the biggest secret yet to be uncovered could be the end of all of them.

The Gray Chamber by Grace Hitchcock

Will Edyth prove her sanity before it is too late?

On Blackwell’s Island, New York, a hospital was built to keep its patients from ever leaving.
 
With her late parents’ fortune under her uncle’s care until her twenty-fifth birthday in the year 1887, Edyth Foster does not feel pressured to marry or to bow to society’s demands. She freely indulges in eccentric hobbies like fencing and riding her velocipede in her cycling costume about the city for all to see. Finding a loophole in the will, though, her uncle whisks Edyth off to the women’s lunatic asylum just weeks before her birthday. And Edyth fears she will never be found.
 
At the asylum she meets another inmate, who upon discovering Edyth’s plight, confesses that she is Nellie Bly, an undercover journalist for The World. Will either woman find a way to leave the terrifying island and reclaim her true self?

Lethal Target by Janice Cantore

Police Chief Tess O’Rourke thought she’d taken care of her small town’s drug problem last year. But now Rogue’s Hollow residents are up in arms over a contentious vote on legalizing the sale of marijuana within city limits. And when an eighteen-year-old is found dead of a possible overdose, Tess wonders if the local pot farms might be involved and begins to fear that a new, deadlier drug supply chain has cropped up. As tempers flare and emotions boil over, Tess faces the possibility of losing the town’s support.

With her relationship to Sergeant Steve Logan on shaky ground, Tess could really use a friend, and she feels drawn to Pastor Oliver Macpherson’s quiet presence. But the anger she holds over her father’s death prevents her from embracing his faith and finding peace.

Battling storms within and without, Tess is shocked when a familiar face from her past shows up in town to stir up more trouble. And his threats against Tess may prove lethal.

Promised Land by Robert Whitlow

With historical mysteries, religious intrigue, and political danger, Promised Land asks one momentous question: What if your calling puts you—and your family—in the crosshairs?

Despite their Israeli citizenship, Hana and Daud cannot safely return to their homeland because a dangerous terrorist ring is threatening Daud. Hana is perfectly fine remaining in the United States, working for a law firm in Atlanta, especially when she learns she’s pregnant. But Daud can’t shake the draw to return home to Israel, even if it makes him a walking target.

Hana is helping her boss plan a huge Middle East summit in Atlanta when Jakob Brodsky, her old friend and former co-litigator, asks for her help with a case. His client is attempting to recover ancient artifacts stolen from his Jewish great-grandfather by a Soviet colonel at the end of World War II. Because the case crosses several national borders, he needs Hana’s knowledge and skill to get to the bottom of what happened to these precious artifacts.

Meanwhile, Daud is called in to help a US intelligence agency extract a Ukrainian doctor from a dangerous situation in Egypt. While overseas, he can’t resist the call of Jerusalem and thus sets off a series of events that puts thousands of people in danger, including his wife and unborn child.

Bestselling author Robert Whitlow explores the meaning of family and home — and how faith forms the identity of both—in this breathtaking sequel to Chosen People.

Rough Way To The High Way by Kelly Mack McCoy

Pastor turned long-haul trucker, Mack, struggles with grief and perceived failures as a minister while he is confronted with a mysterious hitchhiker, smugglers, and a determined killer. After an unbearable tragedy strikes his life, he sells everything he owns and buys a new Peterbilt truck, returning to the trade he learned decades earlier.

Hoping for some windshield therapy and peace of mind behind the wheel of his new rig, Mack gets neither after God nudges him to pick up a hitchhiker near the Jordan State Prison outside Mack’s childhood home of Pampa, Texas.

When his world is ripped apart, he seeks to run away from it all, going as far as to cut off communication with all but a handful of people. But he is pursued by God, who will not let him go. Unbeknownst to Mack, God is equipping His servant with tools to handle events his past education and experience could never have prepared him for.

The story unfolds as the hitchhiker enters Mack’s Peterbilt. The man reminds Mack of his father, a hard living, hard drinking oilfield roughneck who died in prison. God begins to do a work in Mack’s heart while Mack seeks to minister to his new passenger. But Mack soon rues the day he let the hitchhiker into his truck.

His old life in ruins now, Mack learns he has angered a new enemy who threatens to destroy his life on the road as well. Mack suspects he is being followed and is in the sights of a killer who plots a revenge no one could have seen coming.

God works His mysterious way in Mack’s life steamroller-style all the way to an ending that will leave the reader thinking about it long after reading The End at the bottom of the last page.

Rough Way to the High Way is the first of a series of novels about Mack’s adventures on the road as lives are transformed through his new ministry. The first life to be transformed as Rough Way to the High Way develops appears to be that of the hitchhiker. But God is working in Mack’s life all along, preparing him for a new ministry that will transform lives across the country.

Seconds to Live by Susan Sleeman

When cybercriminals hack into the US Marshals’ Witness Protection database and auction off witnesses’ personal details to the highest bidders, the RED Team led by FBI Agent Sean Nichols begins a high-stakes chase to find the hacker. But before he can even get started, the first witness is targeted and barely escapes with her life. Sean believes Phantom, an obsessed hacker who previously outwitted the top minds in the field, is behind the attack, and Sean needs this witness’s help, as she’s the person who has come closest to discovering Phantom’s identity.

Trouble is, she’s a witness under the care of US Marshal Taylor Mills, and Sean is reluctant to work with the captivating marshal who knows his deepest secrets. But Phantom claims he knows where the witness is hiding and will kill her, so to stop the hacker, Sean and Taylor must work through their personal pain and learn to trust each other. . . . The seconds are ticking down before someone dies.

The Thief of Lanywyn Manor by Sarah E. Ladd

Cornwall, England, 1818

Julia Twethewey needs a diversion to mend her broken heart, so when her cousin invites her to Lanwyn Manor, Julia eagerly accepts. The manor is located at the heart of Cornwall’s mining industry, and as a guest Julia is swept into its intricate world. It’s not long, though, before she realizes something dark lurks within the home’s ancient halls.

As a respected mine owner’s younger son, Isaac Blake is determined to keep his late father’s legacy alive through the family business, despite his brother’s careless attitude. In order to save their livelihood — and that of the people around them — the brothers approach the master of Lanwyn Manor with plans to bolster the floundering local industry. Isaac can’t deny his attraction to the man’s charming niece, but his brother has made clear his intentions to court the lovely visitor. And Isaac knows his place.

When tragedy strikes, mysteries arise, and valuables go missing, Julia and Isaac find they are pulled together in a swirl of strange circumstances, but despite their best efforts to bow to social expectations, their hearts aren’t so keen to surrender.

 

What’s on your TBR list?

 

If You Liked . . . Judah’s Daughter

31 Oct

The majority of my book club liked Judah’s Daughter by Angela Hunt, an intriguing glimpse at a little known historical era set between the testaments of the Bible. While technically not a Biblical novel, it is a book about obedience to God in the face of persecution and cultural pressures. If you liked this book too, here are some more recommendations:

Land of Silence by Tessa Afshar

Before Christ called her daughter . . .

Before she stole healing by touching the hem of his garment . . .

Elianna is a young girl crushed by guilt. After her only brother is killed while in her care, Elianna tries to earn forgiveness by working for her father’s textile trade and caring for her family. When another tragedy places Elianna in sole charge of the business, her talent for design brings enormous success, but never the absolution she longs for. As her world unravels, she breaks off her betrothal to the only man she will ever love. Then illness strikes, isolating Elianna from everyone, stripping everything she has left.

No physician can cure her. No end is in sight. Until she hears whispers of a man whose mere touch can heal. After so many years of suffering and disappointment, is it possible that one man could redeem the wounds of body . . . and soul?

A Passionate Hope by Jill Eileen Smith

Hannah and her husband, Elkanah, share a deep and abiding love, for each other, for their God, and for his tabernacle at Shiloh. Greatly disturbed by the corruption of the priests, they long for restoration and pray for a deliverer. But nothing changes as the years pass. Years that also reveal Hannah to be barren.

Pressured by his family to take another wife, Elkanah marries Peninnah, who quickly begins to bear children. Disgraced and taunted by her husband’s new wife, Hannah turns again to prayers that seem doomed to go unanswered. Do her devotion and kindness in the face of Peninnah’s cruelty count for nothing? Why does God remain silent and indifferent to her pleas?

Travel back to the dusty streets of Shiloh with an expert guide as Jill Eileen Smith brings to life a beloved story of hope, patience, and deliverance that shows that even the most broken of relationships can be restored.

Shelter of The Most High by Connilyn Cossette

The daughter of a pagan high priest, Sofea finds solace from her troubles in the freedom of the ocean. But when marauders attack her village on the island of Sicily, she and her cousin are taken across the sea to the shores of Canaan.

Eitan has lived in Kedesh, a city of refuge, for the last eleven years, haunted by a tragedy in his childhood, yet chafing at the boundaries placed on him. He is immediately captivated by Sofea, but revealing his most guarded secret could mean drawing her into the danger of his past.

As threats from outside the walls loom and traitors are uncovered within, Sofea and Eitan are plunged into the midst of a murder plot. Can they uncover the betrayal in time to save their lives and the lives of those they love?

The Thief by Stephanie Landsem

A Roman centurion longing for peace and a Jewish woman hiding a deadly secret witness a miracle that transforms their lives and leads them to the foot of the cross.

Longinus is a Roman centurion haunted by death and failure. Desperate to escape the accursed Judean province, he accepts a wager. If he can catch the thieves harassing the marketplace before Passover, he’ll earn a transfer away from the troublemaking Jews.

Nissa is a Jewish woman with a sharp tongue and no hope of marriage. Only with the help of Mouse, the best thief in Jerusalem, can she keep her blind brother, Cedron, fed and a roof over their heads.

When a controversial teacher miraculously heals Cedron, Longinus longs to learn more about the mysterious healer. Instead, his journey leads him to Nissa, whose secret will determine the course of both their futures.

Unexpectedly caught up in the arrest, trial, and crucifixion of Jesus, they wonder who this teacher is who heals others but does nothing to save himself. Is the mercy he offers in his teachings real, or just another false promise? Can Nissa and Longinus overcome their pasts to find a future free of their shackles?

The Thief is an evocative story of two people trapped in their circumstances and the life-changing power of forgiveness and love.

 

Top 10 Tuesday — Out of The Comfort Zone

3 Sep

This week on Top 10 Tuesday we are talking books that took us out of our comfort zone. I generally think of new genres when hearing out of comfort zone reads, but today I am going to highlight books with difficult subject matter. The books on my list are beautifully written and touched my heart, but were definitely not light and easy reads. They focus on the difficulties of life — the things we hope never to experience. Why read books like this? To challenge, to inform, to engage our sympathies (and empathy), to make us uncomfortable. But lest you think these selections are going to leave you feeling worse than when you started them, please know they are filled with grace and redemption. If you haven’t read some on my list, I hope you find one that will speak to your heart.

For more out of comfort zone reading, head over to That Artsy Reader Girl.

All Manner of Things by Susie Finkbeiner

When Annie Jacobson’s brother Mike enlists as a medic in the Army in 1967, he hands her a piece of paper with the address of their long-estranged father. If anything should happen to him in Vietnam, Mike says, Annie must let their father know.

In Mike’s absence, their father returns to face tragedy at home, adding an extra measure of complication to an already tense time. As they work toward healing and pray fervently for Mike’s safety overseas, letter by letter the Jacobsons must find a way to pull together as a family, regardless of past hurts. In the tumult of this time, Annie and her family grapple with the tension of holding both hope and grief in the same hand, even as they learn to turn to the One who binds the wounds of the brokenhearted.

Author Susie Finkbeiner invites you into the Jacobson family’s home and hearts during a time in which the chaos of the outside world touched their small community in ways they never imagined.

Before I Saw You by Amy K. Sorrells

Folks are dying fast as the ash trees in the southern Indiana town ravaged by the heroin epidemic, where Jaycee Givens lives with nothing more than a thread of hope and a quirky neighbor, Sudie, who rescues injured wildlife. After a tragedy leaves her mother in prison, Jaycee is carrying grief and an unplanned pregnancy she conceals because she trusts no one, including the kind and handsome Gabe, who is new to town and to the local diner where she works.

Dividing her time between the diner and Sudie’s place, Jaycee nurses her broken heart among a collection of unlikely friends who are the closest thing to family that she has. Eventually, she realizes she can’t hide her pregnancy any longer―not even from the baby’s abusive father, who is furious when he finds out. The choices she must make for the safety of her unborn child threaten to derail any chance she ever had for hope and redemption. Ultimately, Jaycee must decide whether the truest form of love means hanging on or letting go.

How Sweet The Sound by Amy K. Sorrells

Wealth and etiquette can hide a lot of things in the South, as the esteemed Harlan family of sleepy Bay Spring, Alabama, knows. But behind the gentle facade of white pillared porches and acres of cultivated pecan orchards, family secrets smolder.

Young Anniston Harlan cares little for high society and the rigid rules and expectations of her grandmother, Princella. She finds solace working the orchards alongside her father and grandfather, and relief in the cool waters of Mobile Bay.

Anniston’s aunt, Comfort Harlan, has never quite lived up to the family name, or so her mother Princella’s ever-apparent scowl implies. When she gleefully accepts the proposal of her longtime boyfriend, Solly, a flood tide of tragedy ensues that strips Comfort of her innocence and unleashes generations of family secrets, changing the Harlan family forever.

While Comfort struggles to recover, Anniston discovers an unlikely new friend from the seedy part of town who helps her try to make sense of the chaos. Together, they and the whole town of Bay Spring discover how true love is a risk, but one worth taking.

Land of Silence by Tessa Afshar

Before Christ called her daughter . . .

Before she stole healing by touching the hem of his garment . . .

Elianna is a young girl crushed by guilt. After her only brother is killed while in her care, Elianna tries to earn forgiveness by working for her father’s textile trade and caring for her family. When another tragedy places Elianna in sole charge of the business, her talent for design brings enormous success, but never the absolution she longs for. As her world unravels, she breaks off her betrothal to the only man she will ever love. Then illness strikes, isolating Elianna from everyone, stripping everything she has left.

No physician can cure her. No end is in sight. Until she hears whispers of a man whose mere touch can heal. After so many years of suffering and disappointment, is it possible that one man could redeem the wounds of body . . . and soul?

Lead Me Home By Amy K. Sorrells

Amid open fields and empty pews, small towns can crush big dreams.

Abandoned by his no-good father and forced to grow up too soon, Noble Burden has set his dreams aside to run the family farm. Meanwhile, James Horton, the pastor of the local church, questions his own calling as he prepares to close the doors for good.

As a severe storm rolls through, threatening their community and very livelihood, both men fear losing what they care about most . . . and reconsider where they truly belong.

The Medallion by Cathy Gohlke

For fans of bestselling World War II fiction like Sarah’s Key and The Nightingale comes an illuminating tale of courage, sacrifice, and survival, about two couples whose lives are ravaged by Hitler’s mad war yet eventually redeemed through the fate of one little girl.

Seemingly overnight, the German blitzkrieg of Warsaw in 1939 turns its streets to a war zone and shatters the life of each citizen — Polish, Jewish, or otherwise. Sophie Kumiega, a British bride working in the city’s library, awaits news of her husband, Janek, recently deployed with the Polish Air Force. Though Sophie is determined that she and the baby in her womb will stay safe, the days ahead will draw her into the plight of those around her, compelling her to help, whatever the danger.

Rosa and Itzhak Dunovich never imagined they would welcome their longed-for first child in the Jewish ghetto, or that they would let anything tear their family apart. But as daily atrocities intensify, Rosa soon faces a terrifying reality: to save their daughter’s life, she must send her into hiding. Her only hope of finding her after the war — if any of them survive — is a medallion she cuts in half and places around her neck.

Inspired by true events of Poland’s darkest days and brightest heroes, The Medallion paints a stunning portrait of war and its aftermath, daring us to believe that when all seems lost, God can make a way forward.

My Hands Came Away Red by Lisa McKay

Right up until the day they burned the church, I thought I understood things. You know… God, people, myself. Life. Then, suddenly, I understood nothing except that we had to run. And that we might never make it home.

When eighteen-year-old Cori signed up for a mission trip to Indonesia she was mostly thinking about escaping her complicated love life, making new friends, and having fun on the beach.

She never expected a civil war to flare up on the nearby island of Ambon.

She never expected violence to find them.

And she never expected that seven teenagers would be forced to flee into the hazardous refuge of the mountains on their own.

Now, haunted by blood and fire, Cori and her teammates must rely on each other to survive.

No One Ever Asked by Katie Ganshert

Challenging perceptions of discrimination and prejudice, this emotionally resonant drama for readers of Lisa Wingate and Jodi Picoult explores three different women navigating challenges in a changing school district — and in their lives.

When an impoverished school district loses its accreditation and the affluent community of Crystal Ridge has no choice but to open their school doors, the lives of three very different women converge: Camille Gray — the wife of an executive, mother of three, long-standing PTA chairwoman and champion fundraiser — faced with a shocking discovery that threatens to tear her picture-perfect world apart at the seams. Jen Covington, the career nurse whose long, painful journey to motherhood finally resulted in adoption but she is struggling with a happily-ever-after so much harder than she anticipated. Twenty-two-year-old Anaya Jones–the first woman in her family to graduate college and a brand new teacher at Crystal Ridge’s top elementary school, unprepared for the powder-keg situation she’s stepped into. Tensions rise within and without, culminating in an unforeseen event that impacts them all. This story explores the implicit biases impacting American society, and asks the ultimate question: What does it mean to be human? Why are we so quick to put labels on each other and categorize people as “this” or “that”, when such complexity exists in each person?

We Hope for Better Things by Erin Bartels

When Detroit Free Press reporter Elizabeth Balsam meets James Rich, his strange request–that she look up a relative she didn’t know she had in order to deliver an old camera and a box of photos — seems like it isn’t worth her time. But when she loses her job after a botched investigation, she suddenly finds herself with nothing but time.

At her great-aunt’s 150-year-old farmhouse north of Detroit, Elizabeth uncovers a series of mysterious items, locked doors, and hidden graves. As she searches for answers to the riddles around her, the remarkable stories of two women who lived in this very house emerge as testaments to love, resilience, and courage in the face of war, racism, and misunderstanding. And as Elizabeth soon discovers, the past is never as past as we might like to think.

Debut novelist Erin Bartels takes readers on an emotional journey through time — from the volatile streets of 1960s Detroit to the Michigan’s Underground Railroad during the Civil War — to uncover the past, confront the seeds of hatred, and discover where love goes to hide.

When The Heart Sings by Liz Tolsma

Natia has a secret, and she’s hiding him right beneath her captor’s nose . . .

The Nazis have forced Natia and Teodor from their Polish farm to a labor camp. When the couple is separated, Natia is chosen to be the housekeeper for the camp’s overseer, and Teodor is sent to work in the factory. Despite the strict camp rules — and the consequences for disobeying them — Natia finds a way to communicate with Teodor by sending messages through song as she passes Teodor’s dormitory.

The stakes get higher when Natia finds a Jewish orphan on the overseer’s doorstep. She is determined to protect the boy and raise him as the child she and her husband were unable to bear — but if her German captors discover how much she’s hiding, both she and Teodor may pay the ultimate price.

2019 Inspy Awards Shortlists!

4 May

A big congratulations to all the talented authors whose books are represented on the 2019 Inspy Award Shortlists! So many great books Now you have your summer reading list! 😉

 

Contemporary Romance/Romantic Suspense

All Made Up by Kara Isaac

Falling for You by Becky Wade

The Saturday Night Supper Club by Carla Laureano

Debut Fiction

Among The Poppies by J’Nell Ciesielski

Engraved on The Heart by Tara Johnson

The Hope of Azure Springs by Rachel Fordham

General Fiction

No One Ever Asked by Katie Ganshert

Things Left Unsaid by Courtney Walsh

Where Hope Begins by Catherine West

Historical Romance

Romancing The Bride by Melissa Jagears

The Sons of Blackbird Mountain by Joanne Bischof

The Thief of Corinth by Tessa Afshar

Literature for Young Adults

The Edge Over There by Shawn Smucker

Olivia Twist by Lorie Langdon

A Worthy Rebel by Jody Hedlund

Mystery/Thriller

Delayed Justice by Cara Putman

The Reckoning at Gossamer Pond by Jaime Jo Wright

Thirst of Steel by Ronie Kendig

Speculative Fiction

Fierian by Ronie Kendig

Mark of The Raven by Morgan L. Busse

The Story Peddler by Lindsay A. Franklin