Thief of Corinth 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.

Thief of Corinth by Tessa Afshar

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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

I had committed my first intentional crime. When the excitement of it evaporated, I had a hard landing. My life would never be the same again. I could not recover my innocence.

After she finds out her father robs corrupt men of their dishonorable gains, Ariadne eventually becomes his partner. All for good and necessary reasons, Ariadne tells herself. But their secret deeds put father and daughter, and their souls, in more than one level of danger in Thief of Corinth by author Tessa Afshar.

Confession: though I’ve read most of this author’s novels, and Harvest of Rubies is one of my all-time favorites, I knew some initial hesitation about this book, since I’ve also written one with a thieving female protagonist. Though that doesn’t determine the value of either novel, I’ll admit I was relieved to find out how much the storylines differ.

(Authors have their little worries, you know.)

But, anyway! I expected another good Biblical Fiction read here, and I was also prepared to spend a few days reading it. I did not expect that I’d have it finished in less than twenty-four hours. I’m not the fastest reader around, but when a story pulls me in this well, I just have to go with it. (And give up some sleep.) I found the plot development/pacing to be a bit awkward in places, but it wasn’t too distracting.

And, my goodness, the book cover. The soft and rich tones and texture, mixed with the peril of a young woman on the run—it’s excellent.

Whether you’re already a fellow fan of Afshar or just looking for a great historical/biblical ChristFic read, you’d do well to check this one out.

 

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.

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.

 

Land of Silence 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.

Land of SilenceLand of Silence by Tessa Afshar

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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

Sometimes the evidence of our senses and the testimony of the world’s wisdom are plain wrong. Sometimes the Lord is busy forging victory when the mind expects only defeat.

When I picked up Land of Silence by author Tessa Afshar, I had no idea this novel was about the now famous woman who once dared to touch the hem of Jesus’s garment for healing. (Yup. Me and my habitual neglect of preliminary book blurb reading.) I only knew the novel was by this particular Biblical Fiction author, and that’s all I needed to know.

Afshar has such a knack and a grace for weaving these types of stories. The heroine here, Elianna, reminds me somewhat of Sarah from my favorite book by this author, Harvest of Rubies. Both Sarah and Elianna are unconventional for their time and culture, being rather educated and holding vocational positions that would normally be held by men. Even with everything in her life that makes her vulnerable, Elianna also has a spark of fire in her, and her rich and layered (back)story makes her eventual, few moments with Jesus all the more meaningful.

Now, although elements like hardship and tragedy are necessary to make triumphant stories triumphant, this novel became somewhat of a downer to me. Yes, the heroine’s life must be hard to give the book its substance, but with disaster upon disaster and repeating moments in the narrative rehearsing how unhappy Elianna is and all the reasons why, her rather constant sorrow became a little tiresome to me. (Gee, I know that sounds callous.) Then after all of the grief and pain, the sweeping and effusive resolution of it all—for there’s much to resolve—borders on being overdone, almost too sweet and perfect.

Still, overall, it’s an engaging and moving read, certain to touch the hearts of many Christian Fiction readers.

 

In the Field of Grace 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. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Moody Publishers for an honest review.

In the Field of GraceIn the Field of Grace by Tessa Afshar

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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

“Your God used a woman to fulfill His plans for your people?”
“You never know who the Lord will use. Perhaps one day, it will be you, Ruth.”

No, In the Field of Grace by author Tessa Afshar isn’t the first novel I’ve read that retells the biblical story of Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz. Still, seeing as how this retelling is by the author of one of my all-time favorite books, Harvest of Rubies, I couldn’t pass this novel up.

Where the central love story is concerned, Ruth isn’t the only one who comes in with a backstory, and Boaz has his own inner challenges to face. He delivers my favorite quote from the novel, saying that “Chance is God’s way of showing up without making an announcement,” and Ruth’s glimpses of dry humor are what I liked most about her character.

I did have some trouble getting into the story, as some of the beginning events felt mostly obligatory, needing to be included to match the biblical account, of course, but they didn’t have much strength or depth beyond that. As the actual book of Ruth is just four chapters long, it’s only natural that much would have to be added for a retelling of this length, but while I thought the added material made for a pleasant read overall, much of it didn’t feel vital. Ruth’s, Boaz’s, and Naomi’s reflections on God are important for their characters, but the story began to feel lesson-heavy and redundant along the way.

Nevertheless, it’s a sweet and faith-filled novel that many more fans of Biblical Fiction should enjoy.