Slender Reeds: Jochebed’s Hope, by Texie Susan Gregory

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

Trapped beneath 400 years of Egypt’s injustices, the Hebrew people await deliverance from generations of Egyptian slavery. But while it is still dark, God is at work. Young Jochebed is unaware the Master Weaver is preparing her to mother three formidable leaders: Miriam, Aaron, and Moses. Shiphrah, the half-Egyptian midwife tasked to kill Hebrew male newborns, remembers childhood stories of a merciful God and cannot resist His call on her life.

Two women, each following the dangerous path God has set before them—this is their story

First Thoughts:

I’ve not come across a novel about Moses’ mother before, although she has appeared in other novels about him. This is Texie Susan Gregory’s debut novel. I have no idea what to expect from it.

My Take:

This debut novel imagines the life of Moses’ mother up until she surrendered her son to the reeds of the River Nile. Who was she? How did she meet her husband? What made her decide on her course of action? According to Gregory, Jochebed was a fatherless adolescent whose relatives decided she should marry the widower, Amram. A passage in Exodus describes Jochebed as “his father’s sister.” This relationship isn’t highlighted in Slender Reeds, but she is very young when she marries and I calculated that she was 13 when she gave birth to Miriam. Although life in Egypt is difficult, Jochebed still finds time for her friendships with a cousin, Lili, and an abused girl named Shiphrah who comes to live with her family. Pharaoh’s decree impacts these relationships with devastating results.

There were times when I honestly didn’t enjoy reading Slender Reeds because of its violence. Shiphrah is abused by a parent, the slaves are whipped for the slightest infraction, and Pharaoh kills with impunity. There’s a horrible scene where Jochebed witnesses babies ripped from their mothers’ arms and murdered. Pharaoh Ramses is a complex figure: he’s pure evil towards the Hebrews and his enemies, but is portrayed as extremely loving to Queen Nefertari and also shown as insecure about his place in history. I’m also not sure about Shiphrah having an Egyptian background. The scene where Jochebed walks away from baby Moses is heartbreaking and the book ends on a depressing note. I don’t know if Jochebed lived to see her son lead her people to freedom, but I would have loved to seen this written. An epilogue led me to think there might be a sequel but it doesn’t look like there will be one.

Thank you to Barbour Publishing for my complimentary copy of Slender Reeds: Jochebed’s Hope.

Do you plan to read Slender Reeds: Jochebed’s Hope? Let me know your thoughts.


Publisher: Shiloh Run Press (an imprint of Barbour Publishing)

Publication Date: 01 November 2016

Page Count: 320

Read more on:   Texie Susan Gregory’s Website   Barbour Publishing’s Website

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Books-a-million

A Lady Unrivaled, by Roseanna M. White

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

Amid the Unforgettable Cotswolds, the Final Grasp for the Fire Eyes Diamonds Could Threaten Them All

Lady Ella Myerston can always find a reason to smile–even if it’s just in hope that tomorrow will be better than today. All her life everyone has tried to protect her from the realities of the world, but Ella knows very well how the dangerous Fire Eyes diamonds have haunted her brother and their friends, and she won’t wait for peril to strike again. She intends to take action . . . and if that happens to involve an adventurous trip to the Cotswolds, then so much the better.

Lord James Cayton has already broken two hearts, including that of his first wife, who died before he could convince himself to love her. Now he’s determined to live a better life . . . but that proves complicated when old acquaintances pull Cayton into their desperate attempt to seize the jewels. He does his best to remove the intriguing Lady Ella from danger, but the stubborn girl won’t budge. How else can he redeem himself, though, but by saving her–and his daughter–from those intent on destroying them all?

First Thoughts:

This is the final book in White’s Ladies of the Manor series. I’m hoping for a resolution to the mystery of the Fire Eyes jewelry plot. Since it’s set in 1913, I wonder if there will be any mention of tension in Europe. Looking at the cast of characters, it appears part of the storyline might be set in Paris.

My Take:

The final book of Roseanna M. White’s Ladies of the Manor series sees the Fire Eyes rubies changing hands again, former enemies becoming friends, and a path to redemption for a woman who thought she was beyond saving. There’s also murder, theft, and blackmail. Familiar characters reappear, and Cayton and Ella will also be familiar to readers of the previous books. There are new characters, including Kira who’s sent to spy on one of the supposed owners of the rubies. A Lady Unrivaled becomes as much Kira’s story as Ella’s and I think I preferred her tale.

There’s a lot packed into this book. I read an electronic copy and was surprised when I realized I was only halfway through it since there’d already been so much going on. The second half seemed to go quicker as the tension ratcheted up. There aren’t many plot twists, but there was one I definitely hadn’t seen coming. There is a happy ending for most of the characters, although one of them did meet the only end possible after all was said and done. And yes, the Fire Eyes plot is suitably resolved. I will say, however, that even though A Lady Unrivaled can be read as a standalone novel I wouldn’t recommend it.

Thank you to Bethany House for my complimentary electronic review copy of A Lady Unrivaled.

Have you read A Lady Unrivaled? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.


Author Q & A

Publisher: Bethany House (a division of Baker Publishing)

Publication Date: 13 September 2016

Page Count: 416

Read more on:   Roseanna M. White’s Website   Bethany House’s Website

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Books-a-million

Saffire, by Sigmund Brouwer

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

For President Teddy Roosevelt, controlling the east-west passage between two oceans mattered so much that he orchestrated a revolution to control it. His command was to ‘let the dirt fly’ and for years, the American Zone of the Panama Canal mesmerized the world, working in uneasy co-existence with the Panamanian aristocrats.

It’s in this buffered Zone where, in 1909, James Holt begins to protect a defenseless girl named Saffire, expecting a short and simple search for her mother. Instead it draws him away from safety, into a land haunted by a history of pirates, gold runners, and plantation owners, all leaving behind ghosts of their interwoven desires sins and ambitions, ghosts that create the web of deceit and intrigue of a new generation of revolutionary politics.  It will also bring him together with a woman who will change his course—or bring an end to it.

First Thoughts:

While I’ve heard of Sigmund Brouwer I’ve not read any of his previous novels. I’m intrigued by this novel because of the plot information and the exotic setting. I’m not sure I’ve ever read anything set around the building of the Panama Canal.

My Take:

James Holt is sent to Panama as a favor to an old friend. He doesn’t know the reason for the trip but plans to spend no more than 24 hours in the fledgling country. A chance meeting persuades him to stay marginally longer, but he regrets every minute spent away from his North Dakota ranch. Little does he know a perfunctory search for a missing woman will turn into a dangerous investigation into sabotage and political intrigue. After a nasty run in with the National Police, Holt isn’t sure who else he can trust besides the unassuming clerk T.B. Miskimon.

The plot of Saffire is complicated at times, with several twists and turns. Some clues are easy enough to piece together while other information has to almost be forced from the pages. There’s a multinational cast of characters from the eponymous Saffire to the aforementioned Miskimon, but I found it difficult to remember who some of the minor characters were in relation to the plot and each other. I couldn’t work out how old Saffire was: I get the feeling she was younger than she appeared. Miskimon is introduced as being “prissy” but he grew on me and reminded me of a mix of Bertie Wooster’s Jeeves and Batman’s Alfred. I was surprised to later learn this particular clerk was an historical character. He’s not the only historical figure to appear in the book either.

Saffire is a fascinating portrayal of America’s Panama exploits, with plenty of detail of life in the Canal Zone. There’s also something about it that I can’t quite describe, a certain je ne sais pas if you will. The one aspect I didn’t care for was the romance, which could’ve been left out in my opinion. Overall, Saffire isn’t a mind blowing book but it is one I enjoyed reading.

Thank you to Blogging for Books for my complimentary uncorrected proof of Saffire.

Have you read Saffire? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.


Publisher: Waterbrook (an imprint of Penguin Random House)

Publication Date: 16 August 2016

Page Count: 336

Read more on:   Sigmund Brouwer’s Website   Waterbrook’s Website

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Books-a-million