Egypt’s Sister by Angela Hunt

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. Bethany House provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.
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Egypt’s Sister by Angela Elwell Hunt

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

As the Jewish daughter of a royal tutor, Chava grows up close to palace life in Alexandria. She’s sure that she’ll not be parted from her girlhood friend, the princess Urbi, not even when Urbi ascends to the throne and becomes Queen Cleopatra. But when a crushing betrayal lands Chava in slavery, she wonders what will become of her life and a promise God once spoke to her in Egypt’s Sister, a novel by author Angela Hunt.

I’ve enjoyed Biblical Fiction by this author before and was intrigued to hear that she’d be writing a series about the biblical “Silent Years.” My favorite aspect of this novel is the fact that Chava hears God during this period when He’s supposedly silent. (Yeah—I don’t believe God goes mute so much as we go deaf, but I won’t get into that.)

Now, there were some things in the novel that didn’t make complete sense to me. The process of Chava’s enslavement, for one, didn’t seem to make logical business sense. Aside from that, while this book is called A Novel of Cleopatra, the queen is off screen for most of it. She’s out there living her (now notorious) life, while Chava is left to pine and obsess over her. Eventually, Chava herself alludes to “obsessing over Urbi” for years.

I also found the extent of Chava’s naiveté to be unbelievable at times. Although she’s done some growing by the later chapters, it’s hard for me to be super-enthused about a story when I only feel so-so about the main character.

Still, the ending of the novel has put me in anticipation of the next one in The Silent Years series.

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Judah's Wife: A Novel of the Maccabees (The Silent Years #2)

Bread of Angels by Tessa Afshar

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. Tyndale House provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.
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Bread of Angels by Tessa Afshar

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

With the potential for greatness, Lydia is poised to become a notable expert and seller of purple in a Roman world, despite her being a woman–and an unmarried one, at that. But it will take more than success in her trade to free her from deep-seated fears that threaten to be her undoing in Bread of Angels, a novel by author Tessa Afshar.

I don’t have many “I’ll read any novel with his/her name on it” authors, but this author is one of those for me. I got what I was expecting here: a rich and touching story, delving deeply into the life of the heroine in a historical/biblical setting. While this book is certainly a standalone, if anyone may be interested in or plans on reading the novel Land of Silence by Afshar sometime, I’d recommend reading it before this one, for possibly spoiler-ish reasons.

Now, I’ll admit I enjoyed the first two-thirds or so of this novel more than the final parts. Recognizing Lydia from the Bible, I knew the renowned apostle Paul would be a part of this story. But I’ve seen it before in a different book by another author too, when Paul’s presence onstage practically nudges the main character into more of a minor role while Paul is there. Lydia seems to fade somewhat with the incoming of new characters in the later scenes, and as the story stalls a bit in the midst of their increasing Scripture and faith discussions, it felt for a while like I was reading a different book than the one I’d started. It also appears the story runs out of time for some major events and rushes to tie them up with a few short summaries in the last chapter.

Still, I’d gladly recommend this novel to fellow readers of Biblical Fiction, and I’m keeping my eyes open for more from this author.

The Dog Who Was There by Ron Marasco

biblical-books-2 nadine keels

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. BookLook Bloggers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for an honest review.
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Five Gold Stars

the-dog-who-was-thereThe Dog Who Was There by Ron Marasco

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

I’ll admit that while I have a certain fondness for animals in real life, I don’t really do animal tales. The thought of reading a novel about a horse or watching a movie about a whale just doesn’t appeal to me.

But perhaps what intrigued me about this particular novel was the idea of viewing some of “the greatest story ever told” from a new-to-me type of angle. So I did indeed pick up The Dog Who Was There by author Ron Marasco. And I wasn’t disappointed.

No, this isn’t a story about a dog who follows Jesus around everywhere. In fact, for a while, I found the parts where Jesus showed up to be the least compelling of the novel. Much like an extra guy who didn’t quite fit in the story, in person. And I thought that perhaps His presentation here leaned too much toward the kind of soft and radiant Christ Who appears in Lew Wallace’s Ben-Hur, not enough like a man Who used to work with His hands and would’ve spent a lot of His time in the sun and dirt.

But, once it’s all weaved together, He ultimately does fit in this account that centers on a lovable and courageous dog, Barley. Seriously, Barley’s engaging and poignant story put tears in my eyes at least three different times. And while there’s a simple, storybook feel to the characters and maybe some head-hopping (like hops from Barley’s head into human ones), there’s genius in the novel’s layering and delivery.

It’s the kind of book that makes you want to be a better person, and that says a lot. I’d recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys Christian and Biblical Fiction or inspirational stories, whether you’re usually a fan of animal tales or not.

Priscilla and Aquila by Lois T. Henderson and Harold Ivan Smith

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Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.
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7632846Priscilla and Aquila by Lois T. Henderson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Priscilla and Aquila will experience love and untold challenges in marriage, and not only for matrimonial reasons. They’ll join others in the forging of a new way of faith in a Roman world in Priscilla and Aquila, a novel by Lois T. Henderson and Harold Ivan Smith.

I’ve enjoyed other novels by the late Henderson about biblical figures, namely, Miriam, Ruth, and Abigail–whose stories are rather popular material for fictional retellings. I think it’s safe to say that novels about Priscilla and Aquila are on the much rarer side, which may be what I appreciate most about this novel.

I also like how the man/woman and husband/wife relationships are not “copy and pasted” here: copied from the twentieth century the book was written in and pasted into 48-54 A.D. The characters don’t just automatically “get” how to handle the gradual shifts in gender roles in the early Church, but both the men and the women have to grapple with new ideas.

The book became a bit dull to me at some points after Priscilla and Aquila’s exit from Rome. It’s as if the plot isn’t quite sure what to do with itself at times. Upon the arrival of the apostle Paul and the telling of his story, Priscilla and Aquila (especially Aquila) seem to fade somewhat into the background. Aquila becomes a more minor figure toward the end, cutting his character development short. Paul essentially takes over the story’s leading role opposite Priscilla.

This was Henderson’s final novel. It’s apparent that she passed before it was published, and maybe before she’d finished writing it, since this particular novel of hers has a co-author. This could be one explanation for the disjointed feel of the plot toward the end. The rather last-minute characters like Faltius and Demetrius didn’t interest or evoke much feeling in me, as they show up when the novel is ready to wrap up.

Yet, all in all, it was an enjoyable read for me, one that other Biblical Fiction readers may think worthy of seeking out.