Harvest of Rubies  -     By: Tessa Afshar
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Harvest of Rubies

River North / 2012 / Paperback

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The prophet Nehemiah's cousin can speak numerous languages, keep complex accounts, and solve perplexing mysteries---and she's a woman! When Sarah's forced to marry the queen's nephew, her career disappears but not her skills. After discovering irregularities in Darius's books, she finds herself in grave danger---and learns that she has more to offer than her talents.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 320
Vendor: River North
Publication Date: 2012
Dimensions: 8.50 X 5.50 (inches)
ISBN: 0802405584
ISBN-13: 9780802405586
Availability: In Stock

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Publisher's Description

The prophet Nehemiah's cousin can speak numerous languages, keep complex accounts, write on rolls of parchment and tablets of clay, and solve great mysteries. There is only one problem: she is a woman.

In her early childhood years, Sarah experienced the death of her mother and her father's subsequent emotional distance and she came to two conclusions: that God does not care about her, and that her accomplishments are the measure of her worth - the measure of her self.

Sarah, the talented scribe and cousin to Nehemiah, is catapulted into the center of the Persian court, working too many hours, rubbing elbows with royalty, and solving intrigues for the Queen. Ironically, it isn't failure but success that causes Sarah to lose her only source of external validation.

Sarah soon learns that she has something of worth to offer beyond her ability with languages and sums - her very being proves to be a blessing to others particularly the aristocrat, Darius, she was given to in marriage.

Sarah and Darius' story continues in Harvest of Gold. Darius may be able to learn to love his wife, but can he ever learn to trust Sarah and her Lord?

Author Bio

TESSA AFSHAR was voted "New Author of the Year" by the Family Fiction sponsored Reader's Choice Award 2011 for her novel Pearl in the Sand. She was born in Iran, lived there for the first fourteen years of her life, and attended an English boarding school for girls before moving to the United States permanently. Her conversion to Christianity in her twenties changed the course of her life forever. Tessa holds an MDiv from Yale University where she served as cochair of the Evangelical Fellowship at the Divinity School. She has spent the last twelve years in full- and part-time Christian work.

ChristianBookPreviews.com

Tessa Afshar's fast-paced historical novel, Harvest of Rubies, presents the theme of needing to make the Lord our true refuge and strength. The story profiles the captivating life of a young Jewish captive, Sarah. The adventure begins in the eighth year of King Artaxerxes' reign during 457 B.C. in Persia. Despite it being highly unusual for a Jewish girl to be able to read and write, Sarah finds herself in the position of senior scribe for the queen. As a result of a devastating past, Sarah struggles with self-worth, and her talents of writing, interpreting, and advising become unsatisfying pastimes -- false idols. Her journey, however, brings her to a higher calling that will inspire as well as challenge each reader’s relationship with the Lord.

This novel is well written, with insightful anecdotes and direct quotes from Scripture. It will appeal to women of all ages. The plot’s suspense, the intellectual dialogue, and Sarah's heartfelt prayers combine to make a story that is emotionally powerful and thought provoking.

The novel's theme comes from Psalm 46:1-2, "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble, therefore we will not fear." Throughout her life, Sarah suffers from extreme public humiliation, near death experiences, and her own insecurities, though she finds God is there and always has been. She finds her strength and refuge in the Lord and overcomes worldly lies and fears.

The history in Harvest of Rubies comes from emerging archeological finds and Greek historical records. It is historically accurate and teaches readers about the culture during the time of Nehemiah. Tessa Afshar leaves her readers encouraged and craving more with the author's notes, recipes for meals from the story, and a sneak peek into her next book, which is a continuation of Sarah's story. - Alexandria J. Stokes, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com

Publisher's Weekly

Sarah is a Jew in ancient Persia, cousin of Nehemiah, and the daughter of the scribe Simeon, whose attention she wins only when she proves to possess literary abilities of her own. In this latest by Afshar (Pearl in the Sand), the Bible's ancient Near Eastern context is the setting for an engaging story of pluck, friendship, and faith. Sarah becomes a professional scribe and wins the affections of the queen only to find herself bound to marry a man she doesn't know and forced to give up the job that she loves. When she botches her wedding, and is abandoned to a rural estate, it would seem that all is lost. But Sarah finds wisdom and strength in the texts and traditions of her people, and knits together an unconventional community of support. Afshar's story challenges misconceptions about harem life and the roles of ancient women while introducing readers to a lovable heroine whose good heart wins out over bumbling ways to prove a boon to others, too. Agent: Wendy Lawton, Books and Such (May) 2012 Reed Business Information

Editorial Reviews

"Sarah is a Jew in ancient Persia, cousin of Nehemiah, and the daughter of the scribe Simeon, whose attention she wins only when she proves to possess literary abilities of her own. In this latest by Afshar (Pearl in the Sand), the Bible's ancient Near Eastern context is the setting for an engaging story of pluck, friendship, and faith. Sarah becomes a professional scribe and wins the affections of the queen only to find herself bound to marry a man she doesn't know and forced to give up the job that she loves. When she botches her wedding, and is abandoned to a rural estate, it would seem that all is lost. But Sarah finds wisdom and strength in the texts and traditions of her people, and knits together an unconventional community of support. Afshar's story challenges misconceptions about harem life and the roles of ancient women while introducing readers to a lovable heroine whose good heart wins out over bumbling ways to prove a boon to others, too. Agent: Wendy Lawton, Books and Such (May)" --Publishers Weekly, 5/14/12

"Almost two years ago, I reviewed a book titled Pearl in the Sand by Tessa Afshar. I absolutely loved the story, and next week her brand new book "Harvest of Rubies" will be released. I was thrilled to have a sneak peak at this one!

Imagine a young woman struggling to make a way in a man's world. Education for women was almost unheard of in the ancient Persian society, yet Sarah found herself working as the chief scribe to the Queen. She did such an outstanding job that she was rewarded by the Queen. Only problem is, her reward was absolutely the last thing that Sarah wanted.

What impacted me the most in this book was Sarah's journey of faith. She started out feeling unworthy, unloved and forgotten by God and her family. As everything she cherished is torn from her life, she had to reach out to God as her anchor in the storm.

Harvest of Rubies is a tender, richly inspirational, beautifully passionate, and often humorous story that I highly recommend!"  Reviewed by Janet Hovis, Net Galley 4/27/2012

"Iranian-born, Tessa Afshar weaves a lovely tapestry in this novel. It is rich in detail about the customs, clothing and culture of this time period. Her characters are fully-fleshed with both strengths and flaws. The storyline is quick-paced and believable and leaves readers thankful that she will pick up Sarah's story in her next book."-- Paula Parker, BuddyHollywood.com, 5/12/12

"There is so much depth to HARVEST OF RUBIES that readers will happily drown in its message of God's unfailing love and mercy, while diving headfirst into the captivating plot and precarious romance. Characters are realistically flawed, likable and earthy. Emotions run the gamut from insecurity and fear to passion, pain and the indescribable joy that can only come with the realization of God's grace. This is a great read!" -- Susan Miura, BookReporter.com, 5/23/12

"I read Ms. Afshar's debut novel, Pearl in the Sand, last year and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was recently offered free on Kindle and, of course, I snagged it. In the course of a conversation on Facebook about it, I learned she had a new release. When I saw it on NetGalley, I grabbed the new one, excited to see if her sophomore offering was as good.

If anything, it was better! The story revolves around Sarah, a fictional cousin of the prophet Nehemiah. She's forced into an arranged marriage where her lack of social graces [think Mulan at the beginning of the movie - only worse] cause no end to problems. But, at the same time, the talents God has given her will prove to be most valuable to her husband and others. This is a romance, so it's little shock to find out that Sarah and her new husband, Darius, will grow to love each other." --Carol Moncado, Net Galley 5/30/12

"Harvest of Rubies is the second book by Tessa Afshar her first book was Pearl in the Sand the story of Rahab. In Harvest of Rubies Tessa tells the story of Sarah Nehemiah's cousin who unlike most women of the time can read and write and speak many languages. She becomes the main scribe to the queen. The story sort of reminded me of the Biblical story of Esther. That Sarah become the queen's scribe when the queen needed her most, because Sarah discovered a plot against the queen.

What I love about Tessa Afshar is that when she writes novel she remains as close to the Biblical record as possible. Ms. Afshar makes her characters come alive and allows the reader to be drawn into the story. Harvest of Rubies is a fiction read that will entertain you, but it will also encourage you. Tessa Afshar books in my opinion will encourage you to pick up your Bible to confirm that she stays true to the Biblical account as much as possible." --Carissa Miller, Net Galley 6/1/2012

"I felt so similar to Sarah as I read through this book.  Her fears, her insecurities, and her doubts have been similar to my own.  I feel as though I am going through a spiritual journey along with her as we both learn of our importance in the eyes of God.

Pearl of the Novel: It's a book that I must have a highlighter and pen on hand because there are so many amazing passages and I gain a lot of inspiration to jot down.  It is full of so much insight and spiritual passages.  It is insightful and helps me become a better person." --Kris Ellsworth, Net Galley 6/13/12 

"I simply love Tessa Afshar's novels!  When I read "Pearl in the Sand," I had to buy a paperback copy to add to my collection.  After reading "A Harvest of Rubies" on ebook, I have to also buy a paperback copy.  These are wonderful books that I would eagerly recommend everyone to have in their library.  They are wonderful expressions of people's own self-doubts that can be dissolved into peace when they turn their lives over to God. I felt so similar to Sarah as I read through this book.  Her fears, her insecurities, and her doubts have been similar to my own.  I feel as though I am going through a spiritual journey along with her as we both learn of our importance in the eyes of God." -- Anonymous, PearlsofGreatWorth.com, 6/20/12

"The author transports us to an ancient time for a story that will touch any woman today who ever has struggled with defining herself through her work and accomplishments. I loved the unusual perspective of Nehemiah (the cupbearer) from a relative's (cousin) point of view.  The writing is a cut above for the genre and Afshar incorporates well developed characters, history, humor, mystery and biblical truths to weave an interesting and encouraging tale with many lessons hidden just below the surface." -- Lauren Y., BookBargainsandPreviews.com

"I cracked open Tessa Afshar's book, Harvest of Rubies, after the kids were fast asleep, and I didn't put it down until I read the last page in the wee morning hours. It was well-written, gripping, and very inspirational.It even brought a few tears...I want to read it again with highlighter in hand. I don't want to forget anytime soon the lesson of the grapevine. How often do I hold onto the pruned branch, wanting that life back? I might find an image of a grapevine and frame it for my home. If you're wondering what I'm talking about, you'll have to read it for yourself. One element that I really enjoyed was that the heroine wasn't perfect. She struggles with things common to all of us. I'm sure that if I were to meet her today, she'd have uneven fingernails, a stain on her shirt, and she might have misplaced her glasses... a little like me. A little like all of us." -- BeckyE, 6/20/12

"Ms. Afshar has once again woven a vividly written, emotionally engaging story. Sarah's struggle to find acceptance through her accomplishments and her eventual realization that her worth doesn't depend on them is poignant. The main characters are all well developed and believable, with foibles and imperfections. Ms. Afshar has a talent for creating characters that you feel like you really know...down to even the loyal dog! The depiction of palace life in ancient Persia and the dynamics of various relationships: nobility, royalty, commoners, harems, and so forth, are well researched and realistic. The thread of intrigue is woven into the story seamlessly and doesn't at all feel like an added on plot device. It adds to the overall theme quite nicely. And even though the book delivers a serious message and delves into serious issues, there's plenty of humor too! There are scenes that are laugh out loud funny. Harvest of Rubies delivers romance, mystery, adventure, grace, and humor. It's endearing, entertaining, and funny while still delivering a worthy message. Highly recommended!" -- Kara, Home with Purpose, 6/28/12

"It's always fun to run across a new author. To borrow a sports analogy, sometimes, you just have to take a chance that an unknown author will "hit it out of the park" and provide you with something you can't stop reading.

I'm so thankful that I took a chance on Tessa Afshar.

Afshar is an amazing storyteller. Her first book made me really dive into an "old" Bible story in a new way. Her second, well, it really makes you take a second look at where a person finds value. In all, I'm thrilled to have discovered a new author. I highly recommend her work - and will probably put them on my "re-read" list. On the scale of one to five, I give her books a solid four. They are enjoyable and easy to read - but will definitely leave you thinking. All in all, a great showing for a new-to-me author!" -- Kaylea Hutson, MyScrappyLife.com, 7/9/12

"What I loved so much about Harvest of Rubies was Sarah's journey.  Afshar seamlessly weaves Sarah's tale of personal growth into the setting of biblical times.  I felt like I was learning something about history and about the Scriptures as I was reading, but without feeling "preached to."  I loved watching Sarah grow and change.  I especially loved how she quotes the psalms of David for strength and guidance.So many times while reading, I thought, "Yes, this is exactly how I feel!"  I love that.  I felt like Afshar was really speaking to me personally.  I felt encouraged and lifted up after reading Harvest of Rubies.

Until I realized there was going to be a sequel, I was not totally thrilled with the ending.  There were certain things that were left unfinished, things I wanted to see finished.  But, I will have to wait until the next book for Sarah and Darius' story to be completed.  I can't wait to read more from Tessa Afshar.  I highly recommend Harvest of Rubies." -- Kelli, Idsoratherbereading.com, 7/14/12

"This was my first book to read by Tessa Afshar--I was amazed at the depth of her research into the culture and daily life of Persia, and her ability to seamlessly weave it into the story she's telling and make it an essential part of her story...This book deserves two tumbs up, five stars, and a cluster of the tastiest grapes you've ever eaten." -- Becky, beckysbookaddiction.blog

Product Reviews

4.7 Stars Out Of 5
4.7 out of 5
(22)
(4)
(1)
(1)
(0)
Quality:
4.7 out Of 5
(4.7 out of 5)
Value:
4.5 out Of 5
(4.5 out of 5)
Meets Expectations:
4.8 out Of 5
(4.8 out of 5)
93%
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Displaying items 1-5 of 28
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  1. Montana
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Powerful Biblical fiction!
    June 8, 2014
    TellNJasmine
    Montana
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 4
    Meets Expectations: 5
    For the first time in my 20+ years of reading a book did what I thought was the impossible. I have gone through the gamut of emotions with the characters in literally hundreds of novels. Some of them tugged at the heartstrings and some were sad, but until Harvest Of Rubies not one book had brought me to tears. In those pages Nehemiah tells Sarah that her worth isn't defined by her abilities and that she has been hiding behind the gifts God gave her. Those words struck like one of Darius's arrows. I don't have a Nehemiah to tell me the truth and I don't yet have the hope of a Darius. But what I do have is that same God using the pages of a novel, penned by a woman who's life has been far removed from mine, to tell me that it is His opinion alone that matters and that His view of me is much different than how others, and even I, see myself.

    Honestly, it is how IT made me feel and even think, that makes Harvest Of Rubies such a good book in my opinion. Yes, the book is well-written; the research and rich detail that Tessa Afshar put into it are wonderful. But is the way she caught my attention and made me feel as if Nehemiah and the others were speaking directly to me, not preaching at me, but telling the honest-to-goodness truth.

    I started reading the book and thanks to the internet being down I had few distractions, I actually finished it over the course of the afternoon. Even now after I have finished it I still find my mind going back to what I read. A truly good book is one that long after you might forget the character's names you still remember what it contained.

    I am usually fairly skeptical of Biblical fiction, questioning how accurate to the Bible and history the book is, but Tessa Afshar has won me over as a new fan with Harvest Of Rubies.

    (I received a copy of this book from Mood Publishers/River North in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are entirely my own.
  2. Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Wonderful historical novel!
    April 24, 2014
    BookLover
    Gender: female
    Quality: 4
    Value: 4
    Meets Expectations: 5
    Harvest of Rubies has quickly become a favorite of mine. I'm writing this review after reading it for the second time, and I believe I may have enjoyed it more this time than the previous, if that's even possible!

    This book is written in the first person, from the point of view of Sarah, the main character. I loved the voice Ms. Afshar gives her. She speaks occasionally as though remembering a past event, or as if she is telling this story to someone. She is sarcastic, sassy, and has a rather droll sense of humor, something with which I relate. I can just hear her saying certain things with that dry humor and it cracks me up! Sarah is awkward and speaks without thinking, which endeared her to me even more. She is so real. I loved that!

    She has spent most of her life finding her self worth in how well she performs a task. She doesn't see herself as worthy of attention and believes she must earn the love and approval of others. Seeing her learn and grow in faith was my favorite part of the book!

    While there are several conversations throughout the book that I enjoyed immensely - I liked the metaphors used and how Sarah links things to what she knows of God's character - I think my favorite was the discussion between her and Nehemiah, her cousin, when he tries to show her where she should find her worth - in God. That particular discourse sticks out in my mind.

    "But do you think the Lord counted them [Adam and Eve] worthy because of their abilities?" . . . "They hadn't even begun their work yet when He made His first pronouncement over them. He called them very good when they hadn't achieved a single thing." - Nehemiah, page 266

    Her husband, Darius, is an interesting character. We see him through her eyes, which means we don't often know what he is thinking, but surprisingly, this didn't bother me like it normally would. Ms. Afshar does such a great job of letting us know what is going on with him and showing us who he is, that even without the story coming from his point of view, we come to know him quite well. He seems hard and arrogant at first, but as we get to know him, we see another side of him. I enjoyed his and Sarah's conversations, their sparring and comebacks making me laugh and smile.

    As much as I didn't want the book to end, I'm happy to know that it isn't the end of their story. We see them again in Harvest of Gold!

    I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Biblical historical fiction!
  3. Calgary, AB
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    A good read.
    January 27, 2014
    zebrapmb
    Calgary, AB
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    Quality: 4
    Value: 3
    Meets Expectations: 3
    This review was written for Harvest of Rubies - eBook.
    I found this book to be an enjoyable read, especially from the viewpoint of a woman who was trained in areas usually left to men.
  4. Age: Under 18
    Gender: female
    3 Stars Out Of 5
    Not for Me
    January 7, 2014
    Ragdogs
    Age: Under 18
    Gender: female
    Quality: 4
    Value: 3
    Meets Expectations: 3
    The Synopsis:

    "The prophet Nehemiah's cousin has been catapulted into the center of the Persian court-working long hours, rubbing elbows with royalty, and becoming the queen's favorite scribe.

    Not bad. for a woman living in a man's world. But a devastating past has left Sarah believing that God doesn't love her and her achievements are the measure of her worth-a measure she can never quite live up to.

    Darius Pasargadae is accustomed to having his way. A wealthy and admired aristocrat, the last thing he expects is an arranged marriage to the queen's scribe, an intelligent woman who scorns him.

    Can two such different people help one another overcome the idols that bind them?

    My Review:

    This book was ok, but I haven't enjoyed it as much as I thought I would. There is nothing really bad about this book, it's just that it is really slow and didn't hold my attention. However, I do like the characters and the history throughout the book.

    Some people might like it better than I did, but, I didn't care for it all that much and don't think I will be getting the sequel, Harvest of Gold.

    "I received this book from Moody Publishers for the purpose of this review. All comments and opinions are my own."
  5. PA
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Great first book in this series about Nehemiah
    January 7, 2014
    fieldsodream
    PA
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 4
    This review was written for Harvest of Rubies - eBook.
    Great series. . .again the character development is quite delightful . . . great historical culture brought out. . .just make sure you read this one first! THis is the first of two books. . .not made real clear that there are 2 books & which one is first.
Displaying items 1-5 of 28
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