Archive for September, 2014

Pearl in the Sand by Tessa Afshar

pearl in the sand

A review by Robin E. Mason

I read a quote today attributed to Téa Obreht,The best fiction stays with you and changes you.” That is this book, Pearl in the Sand. Because it is beautifully crafted and because it is a story lifted from the Word of God.

Tessa Afshar has done her homework. I looked in my Bible, and there’s barely a mention of Rahab. Well, other than her story of hiding the Hebrew spies, and that was hardly more than name dropping. She bears mention in geneology, but nothing of her personal story. This is the beauty of historical fiction; we as artists, create the story around the facts. We dig, as archeologists, to unearth what could plausibly, or even likely, have been the true story. We take privilege and delight of adding nuance to hard fact, subtle hint to solid truth, to make an enjoyable reading experience. Ms. Afshar has done this, and with excellence.

The Scriptures noted by Ms. Afshar identify Nahshon, who would become Rahab’s father in law, as the leader of the Tribe of Judah. His son, Salmone, then took this distinguished position. And he also became the husband of Rahab.

Now think about this for one minute. A member of highest esteem in the nation of Israel, a leader of the Tribe of Judah. Marries a Canaanite woman. A Canaanite woman who is – or was – a harlot. I don’t know how others read Scripture, but I think we are intended to look beyond the words, and look for the depth and meaning. The backstory, if you will.

Ms. Afshar has created this for us, and masterfully so. She has woven a tale of Salmone’s likely reaction to this pagan family coming not just into the holy nation of Israel, but into his tribe. His tribe. Which makes him responsible for them. He does not embrace this very gracefully, yet throughout the text, the truth of the Word woven so neatly into the warp and woof, Salmone comes to see that Yahweh accepts us all the same. And in her story, Ms. Afshar weaves the romance between the Israelite leader and the Canaanite harlot. For whatever their love story may have been, our loving God saw fit to allow her to become part of the most extraordinary blood line of all time.

I dog-earred several pages as I read. Little lessons to come back to. Consequences for one. Our actions might be forgiven, but the consequence remains. Or this: sometimes we ask God for a certain thing, but he answers quite differently. And only later do we see the greater benefit of His answer. His Divine perspective. Much of the story spoke very directly to me, as Rahab came embrace her new life. I won’t say more than that, lest I give too much away.  (And no, I was not a harlot in a previous life.)

This story, crafted so beautifully, grabbed me deeply, leaving me anxious to see what her next book, Harvest of Rubies, holds. And the next, and the one after that.

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lookie, tis me!

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The Land Uncharted


Title: The Land Uncharted


Author: Keely Brooke Keith

Release Date: October 21, 2014
Edenbrooke Press



Lydia Colburn is a young physician dedicated to serving her village in the Land. Day and night, she rushes by horseback to treat the ill and injured, establishing a heroic reputation as the village’s new doctor.

Naval Aviator Connor Bradshaw is flying over the South Atlantic Ocean on a mission to secure any remaining sources of fresh water in a 2025 world torn apart by war. A malfunction activates his aircraft’s ejection system, parachuting his unconscious body to the shore of a hidden land.

Lydia risks her safety to help the injured outsider despite the shock of his mysterious arrival and the disastrous implications his presence could have for her peaceful society, which has gone undetected for seven generations.

Connor searches for a way to return to his squadron, but his fascination with life in the Land makes him protective of Lydia and her peaceful homeland. And while Lydia’s attraction to Connor stirs desires she never anticipated, it also pushes an unwanted admirer to stage a dangerous attempt to win her affection.

As Connor tries to keep the Land off the radar, he learns the biggest threat to Lydia lurks in her village. But when Lydia’s greatest passion and darkest fear collide, will she look to the past or the future to find the strength to survive?



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Advance Praise for The Land Uncharted:

“I was caught up in the characters and the story line from the first pages and hated to see it end.” -Ann Ellison, Goodreads reviewer


“Not only is Keely’s writing beautiful and full of vivid detail, but the story and characters are incredible! I love the way she crosses genres and how well it all blends together.” -Christina Yother, author of Reverie


“The premise is unique, the characters – realistic, the storyline – consistent and entertaining, and the language – fluent. It has just the right touch of conflict, suspense, longing and hope.”- Annalise Joy, Goodreads reviewer


Author Bio:

Keely is a bass guitarist and lives on a hilltop south of Nashville. When she isn’t writing stories or playing bass, Keely enjoys dancing, having coffee with friends, and sifting through vintage books at antique stores.

Author Photo KBK


Author links:






You can now add The Land Uncharted to your shelf on Goodreads, Shelfari, LibraryThing, or FictFact.

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In light of my current endeavor to publish my Tessa in print (woo hoo!) I dedicate this week’s blog post to her. The above is my revised (and in progress) blurb. I offer you now, a few excerpts to whet your appetite. Details of the release shall be forthcoming, as well as my cover reveal and a release party contest!! All the up-to-date scoop will be on my Facebook page:


Be sure to stop by and pay me a visit, and like my page whilst you’re there! Always happy to have visitors and new friends!





Cassie had not been an excitable child. But at Christmastime the wonder and enchantment of the season overtook her usual unruffled demeanor. In spite of the fact that Marni played down the folderol and hoopla of the holidays, Cassie was as eager for Christmas morn as the rest of her fourth grade class.
And in spite of the fact that her mother kept her to a set schedule, Cassie was allowed to stay up past bedtime on Christmas Eve to watch for Santa’s sleigh in the sky. And in spite of the fact that she was up late, she always woke early, before the sun, anxious to get to her brightly wrapped gifts under the brightly decorated Christmas tree.

This year it was different, though. This year, Mommie was married. To Mr. Heath – Daddy, she was allowed to call him Daddy now. And this year, there was a baby coming.
Cassie padded down the hall in her silky soft pink slippers to Mommie’s room. But when she peaked in through the open door, Marni was not there.
Why didn’t they come get me? Cassie’s brow furrowed, hoping that all the gifts were not opened already.
But there was no one in the living room. Gifts unopened, they lay just as they were last night, and no sign that Santa had come either. Cassie checked the breakfast room. Still no sign of anyone.
Mrs. Dudek was in the kitchen, though, nursing a cup of coffee.
“Merry Christmas, little one!”
“Where’s Mommie?”
“They’ve gone to the hospital. The baby’s coming.”
“But what about my presents?”
“You’ll have a baby brother or sister for your Christmas present.”
Cassie tried to smile, but she wanted to open the bright red gift with her name on it. She wanted her Barbie Dream House from Santa. She wondered why he hadn’t come.”



Tessa’s nightmares started again, reliving the moment Connie went over. Living it as herself going over the edge, falling, perpetually falling, hitting the bottom only to fall again.
Marrying Stewart after all, being in her Chinese silk wedding gown, all bloody and ragged from falling. And always with Howie looking on.

In some of the nightmares, she pushed Connie over. In some of them, Connie pushed her over the edge.
The worst dreams, though, were that the wedding was taking place as planned. Except that Connie had become her, and was marrying Stew. She was shut out of her own wedding day, no one could see her, no one could hear her. She tried over and again to engage, to dance with her groom, her new husband. But he, this man in her dreams, only had eyes for the other her. She ran and ran, around and round the entire wedding party and festivities, the cake, the bouzouki players, her family, her friends – HER friends.
And always, she flew off the top of the mountain, her body smashing and thudding against every outcrop on the way down.”



Marni Miller was an exotic creature. Five-foot-nine and slender. Sleek black hair that she wore long and straight. And ice blue eyes.
Now, those blue eyes were snowflakes, misted and adrift. And scared. How can I tell Pop? This will kill him.
After graduation last year, Marni had remained at home to attend Valley Community College. As an art major, she knew she was a deep disappointment to her Pop; he wanted her to go into law or medicine, a generation before her time. But law did not appeal to Marni, and medicine – there was simply too much science and biology for a free spirit such as herself.
Except that now, some of that biology would have served her well. Particularly the reproductive chapters. Marni was not naïve. She knew about sex, and knew how this had happened. She just wished she knew more about the months ahead of her. Marni wished she knew about the immediate hours ahead of her, facing her Pop, but no text book could begin to address the nuances of her relationship with her father.”



Upwards of 200 guests gathered in Barclay Hall, clustered around the linen covered table. In the center stood a seven-tiered illusion in sugar.   Marzipan zoo animals marched around each layer, with yellow and pink frosting balloons bobbing in and out. The tiny top tier held a single yellow candle, nestled in a bed of pink florettes.

Upwards of 200 guests sang out, “Happy Birthday Sweet Connie. Happy birthday to you.”

Cassie sang along because she knew she wasn’t allowed not to. She knew the cake was meant for her too. She knew that Mommie and Heath had presents for her at home. And several of the guests bade her Happy Birthday as well.

But she wanted her own party. She was eleven now, she had her own friends. Mommie had let her invite a few of them to come over after school last week and Gina had made a cake. But there were no candles on it and they didn’t sing. It wasn’t really a party.


Dressed in look-alike pinafores and smocks, Cassie stood behind Connie’s beribboned high chair and helped blow out the candle. While Connie smashed her dimpled little fingers into a yellow giraffe, Cassie stole away with her china plate, and a tea cup of lemonade. Secreted on the velvet settee under the sweeping staircase, Cassie listened to the festivities of her half-sister’s first birthday. She opened her book and escaped to Misselthwaite Manor.”




Oh, darling, thank God you’re alive!” Cassie was still in shock, and this display of affection from Marni rippled through her in waves of numb bewilderment.

Marni continued, “I was so afraid it was you! I don’t know what I’d do if you had died and Cassie had lived.”

Cassie collapsed, the receiver clattered to the floor. The Police Constable picked it up, spoke into the phone in sketchy English while two medics lifted Cassie onto a stretcher.

“Mrs.” The Constable began. “Lady have black out. You to call later time.”

“Yes, yes, of course. Thank you.” The phone clicked off. In New York, on U.S. soil, Marni made ready to fly to Greece to claim the body of the daughter she had never wanted. A part of her was relieved that this unwanted person was no longer a millstone around her neck, a part of her felt great guilt at that truer sentiment. But a deeper part of her mourned the loss of a child she wished she could have loved.”












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