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|Format: DRM Protected ePub|
Vendor: River North
Publication Date: 2012
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's a woman in a man's court.
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: God does not care about me, and my accomplishments are the measure of my worth.
Catapulted into the center of the Persian court, Sarah is working too many hours, rubbing elbows with royalty, and solving intrigues for the Queen. Ironically, it isn't failurebut successthat 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, whom she is 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?
This novel is well written, with insightful anecdotes and direct quotes from Scripture. It will appeal to women of all ages. The plots 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
"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 Sarahs 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 Gods 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 Gods 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 Nehemiahs 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 queens 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 dont 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 youre wondering what Im talking about, youll have to read it for yourself. One element that I really enjoyed was that the heroine wasnt perfect. She struggles with things common to all of us. Im sure that if I were to meet her today, shed 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
debhgrtyPlymouth MAAge: Over 65Gender: Female5 Stars Out Of 5Debs Dozen: Bible History Persian Era Brought to Life in a Harvest of RubiesMarch 26, 2017debhgrtyPlymouth MAAge: Over 65Gender: FemaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5
Bible History can be fascinating or dull. My personal preference is well-written historical fiction of the various eras. One of my fave authors of this genre is Tessa Afshar. Harvest of Rubies is a delightful book set in the Persian reign of Artaxerxes and his Jewish advisor, Nehemiah.
Sarah is an only child whose mother died when she was young. Her scribe father has no clue how to raise a young girl or how to give her the love she needs. As a result, Sarah grows up feeling valued only for her abilities as a scribe and not for her person or personality. When an opportunity arises for Sarah to go to the palace to be the senior scribe for Queen Damaspia, she goesreluctantly. She is cleaned up and educated on palace protocol. And she does an excellent job for the queen. But Sarah still feels unworthy and unloved.
Because of her value to the queen and as a reward, Damaspia gives her a husbandwhich horrifies Sarah. Youll love the palace intrigue, the schemes Sarah uncovers, and the slow realization that maybe she needs the Lord and Lord Darius. How all of the events occur is the stuff of fairy talesor God in action. Five Stars.
Tessa Afshar is a brilliant author whose first book, Pearl in the Sand, resulted in her being voted as New Author of the Year by the Readers Choice Awards. She was born in Iran and lived there for her first fourteen years, attended a boarding school for girls in England, and then moved to the US. She converted to Christianity in her twenties and her life changed. She holds an MDiv from Yale and for the last thirteen years has served in full-time Christian service.
Tessa gave me a copy of Harvest of Rubies, but I was in no way obligated to write a favorable review.
BethRAge: 35-44Gender: female5 Stars Out Of 5Great Biblical fiction!October 14, 2015BethRAge: 35-44Gender: femaleQuality: 0Value: 0Meets Expectations: 0"Rubies!" I cried. "The look like rubies on the vine. You've grown a harvest of rubies, Bardia."
"On my twelfth birthday, my father discovered that I could read." This is the opening line in Harvest of Rubies, and probably one of my most favorite opening lines in a book ever.
Harvest of Rubies, by author Tessa Afshar, is Biblical fiction set in Persia during the time of Nehemiah, during the reign of King Artaxerxes. Sarah, the main character, but a fictional one, is cousin to Nehemiah. As a child she teaches herself to read and write, a skill not common for women, and eventually finds herself as the queen's head scribe.
Early on in the story, Sarah solves a mystery for the queen, and obtains the queen's favor. Because of this favor, she becomes betrothed to the queen's cousin, thus removing her from her position as scribe and placing her in a position of royalty.
Because the marriage is one that is arranged, there are some things to overcome for the couple, and Sarah finds herself in danger arising from her presence at her new husband's estate.
There were many things I liked about this book. I really enjoy the genre of Biblical fiction, and the time period was one I am not really familiar with, so it was interesting to learn more about it.
I liked the main character Sarah so much. I was so excited that she was a young girl stepping outside of what was generally expected into God's plan for her life. That fact that she was a scribe (writer) and could read, two of my favorite activities, had me hooked from the get-go. (I won't lie though-I was a little miffed when she had to get married, and lost her position as scribe.)
I identified a lot with Sarah. She is a Jew by birth, but since the passing of her mother when she was child, that relationship with God was not tended to. Her relationship with God develops throughout the course of the story and it is a beautiful thing to see. What happens in that relationship and what she learns about herself, also taught me some things about myself. I also learned more about the scriptures, especially John 15. In that passage, Jesus talks about being "in the vine," which is the main premise for this book.
I recommend this book to anybody who wants to become more familiar with the time of Nehemiah, and the culture of Persia, especially the customs of royalty. If you enjoy the genre of Biblical fiction, you will enjoy this book. It is also a love story, so if you enjoy romance, you will like this one as well.
Many blessings as you grow in Christ,
Disclosure: I received this book free from Moody Publishers Blogger Review Program. I was not required to give a favorable review. The thoughts and opinions found here are entirely my own.
TellNJasmineMontanaAge: 25-34Gender: female5 Stars Out Of 5Powerful Biblical fiction!June 8, 2014TellNJasmineMontanaAge: 25-34Gender: femaleQuality: 5Value: 4Meets Expectations: 5For 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.
BookLoverGender: female5 Stars Out Of 5Wonderful historical novel!April 24, 2014BookLoverGender: femaleQuality: 4Value: 4Meets Expectations: 5Harvest 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!
zebrapmbCalgary, ABAge: 45-54Gender: female4 Stars Out Of 5A good read.January 27, 2014zebrapmbCalgary, ABAge: 45-54Gender: femaleQuality: 4Value: 3Meets Expectations: 3I found this book to be an enjoyable read, especially from the viewpoint of a woman who was trained in areas usually left to men.