Counted With the Stars

Counted With the Stars

by Connilyn Cossette

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Overview

Counted With the Stars by Connilyn Cossette

A Story of Love, Desperation, and Hope During a Great Biblical Epoch

Sold into slavery by her father and forsaken by the man she was supposed to marry, young Egyptian Kiya must serve a mistress who takes pleasure in her humiliation. When terrifying plagues strike Egypt, Kiya is in the middle of it all.

To save her older brother and escape the bonds of slavery, Kiya flees with the Hebrews during the Great Exodus. She finds herself utterly dependent on a fearsome God she's only just beginning to learn about, and in love with a man who despises her people. With everything she's ever known swept away, will Kiya turn back toward Egypt or surrender her life and her future to Yahweh?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780764214370
Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/05/2016
Series: Out From Egypt Series , #1
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 186,172
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Connilyn Cossette is a homeschooling mother of two with a passion for writing stories of timeless grace. She hopes to draw readers into a personal encounter with the rich ancient world of the Bible and spark curiosity that will lead to digging deeper into the truth of the Word. Her novel Counted With the Stars won the 2013 Frasier Contest and was a semi-finalist in the 2013 ACFW Genesis Contest. She lives near Dallas, Texas. Connect with her at www.connilyncossette.com.

Read an Excerpt

Counted with the Stars


By Connilyn Cossette

Bethany House Publishers

Copyright © 2016 Connilyn Cossette
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-7642-1437-0


CHAPTER 1

1st Day of Akhet
Season of Inundation
1447 BC

The sound of my knock on the wooden chamber door echoed in the pit of my stomach. Shira opened the door, but the Hebrew girl refused to meet my eyes. Two streaks of fur, one black and one gray, fled the room — even the cats knew enough to escape.

"Is that Kiya?" My mistress's sharp voice raised the hair on the back of my neck. "It had better be."

Tightening my grip on the water jug I carried — my only shield — I drew a deep breath as I stepped past Shira and over the threshold.

Tekurah crossed her bedroom in four swift strides to tower over me. "Where have you been? You held up this entire household all morning."

What an exaggeration. I abandoned the temptation to try and explain the throng of people, animals, and merchant booths clogging the city today. Pushing my way through the crowds during festival preparations had proved almost impossible, especially carrying a jar full of water from the canal. Besides, Tekurah was never at a loss for reasons to reprimand me.

With practiced obedience I mumbled, "Forgive me, mistress."

My show of humility did nothing to placate her. She thrust the ebony handle of a fan toward my face while accusing me of deliberate delay. I flinched. She might actually strike me this time.

She threw her hands in the air. "Why do I have to put up with such a worthless slave?" She growled like one of her cats and then continued her tirade. I didn't bother to listen. I had heard all of this before and doubtless would again.

Jaw locked and mind numb, I waited for the end of her diatribe. Instead I focused on the intricacies of the painted mural on the wall. The lush scene depicted the glorious paradise of the afterlife, where gods and men traveled together in gilded boats on the sparkling blue waters of the eternal Nile. The vivid colors were striking, but they were nothing compared to my brother Jumo's masterful artwork.

Shira's posture snagged my attention. The Hebrew girl stood in front of the open window, wrapped in sunlight, head down and eyes closed — submissive as usual. Were her lips moving?

"And if you keep me waiting again" — Tekurah pointed the fan an inch from my nose — "I will hit you. Even the gods wouldn't fault me."

Bitter retorts bubbled up inside me, threatening to burst free. Silently, I prayed to Ra, Isis, and any other god who would listen, for the strength to keep my mouth shut. Sweat trickled in rivulets down my spine.

Tekurah drew a long breath through her nose, black eyes flashing. With another growl, she hurled the ebony fan toward the enormous bed in the center of the room, but it tangled in the sheer linen canopy and clattered to the floor. She stared at it, blinking, and then exhaled through gritted teeth. Hands on hips, she turned and stalked to her bathing chamber.

As Shira retrieved the fan, I breathed quiet thanks to the gods for such a brief scolding today. My sliding grip on the heavy earthen jug would not have held much longer.

Tekurah's bathing room was tiled floor to ceiling in whitewashed stone and decorated with lush palms and splendid scenes from the Nile — hippos, crocodiles, and ibises. My skin prickled at the chill in the room. I placed the jug on the floor next to the long stone bathing bench in the center of the room and flexed my relieved fingers. Shira added a few drops of rose oil from an alabaster bottle to the water as I uncovered the drain that emptied into the gardens. A little blue-headed agama lizard startled me when I moved the stone, and then scurried back out to the safety of the courtyard. If only I could follow.

Every Egyptian woman labored to appear youthful — Tekurah more than most. The many face creams, balms, and ointments she insisted upon complicated an already arduous process. We spent hours tending her body, fetching potions, purchasing magic cures, and delivering offerings to Hathor, the goddess of beauty.

After Shira and I undressed her, Tekurah perched on the bathing slab, lips pursed and pointed chin high. Shira scrubbed our mistress's head with natron soda paste. Then together we sponged her body with rose-scented water and massaged sweet balms into her skin, head to toe. At least I would enjoy soft hands for a few hours. This dry season sucked the moisture from my skin. I savored the heady aroma of the imported oils. The exotic spices, pungent balsam, and sweet myrrh reminded me of Salima.

A full cycle of seasons had passed since Salima had lugged cumbersome pitchers from the river for my own baths and applied perfumed oils to my body. Now I served a mistress of my own, fetching water and bowing to her every demand. Coveting her luxuries made my labors all the more torturous.

Shira brought in Tekurah's new gown, the delicate weave almost translucent. I ached for the sumptuous glide of fine cloth over my skin. My own abrasive, unflattering tunic provoked my vanity.

I struggled to pull the dress over Tekurah's head, but she jerked away. "Let Shira do it. She is worth three of you."

Slipping her dark braid over her shoulder, Shira reddened and reached up to adjust the mangled neckline before tying a beaded belt around Tekurah's narrow waist, adding some curve to her otherwise willowy body.

Tekurah spoke the truth. Shira's skills exceeded mine. It had surprised me, when I'd first entered servitude, that a Hebrew girl held such a trusted position as body-servant to the mistress. It did not take long to see why, though. She was nimble, efficient, and hardworking. Never speaking out of turn, she served Tekurah with utter, inexplicable politeness.

I worked to emulate her in all our tasks, but sixteen years of soft living had rendered me all but useless as a servant. My strength had grown over the last year, my once-pampered muscles now sinewy, but Tekurah still insisted Shira redo almost everything I attempted.

"Mistress, which jewelry today?" Shira's voice barely broke a whisper.

"The usekh gifted by Pharaoh." Tekurah glanced at me out of the corner of her eye.

Shira bowed, eyes downcast. "I will fetch it from the treasury while Kiya attends to your wig." This was one task I performed with minimal clumsiness.

Tekurah sank onto a low stool by a mahogany vanity, her narrow face reflected in the polished silver mirror. "Make it quick. Don't forget bangles and earrings."

Shira padded out of the room, head down.

"The new wig." Tekurah snapped her fingers at me. "Now."

The large closet overflowed with chests, baskets of gowns, countless pairs of sandals, and wooden stands laden with all styles and varieties of wigs. For all the seeming lack of affection between Tekurah and Shefu, he certainly allotted her a generous share of clothing, jewels, and accessories. The Queen herself might covet such a vast assortment.

A new rosewood wig chest was tucked behind a basket. I carried it to the vanity and opened the lid, choking back a sneeze. Spiced to mask the odor of wool and human hair, the box reeked of cinnamon with such potency my eyes watered.

An exquisite hairpiece lay inside, interlaced with gold and red faience beads and braided with the elaborate plaits made popular by the First Wife of Pharaoh. I centered the wig on Tekurah's bald head. Bodies, candles, and lamps would elevate the temperature of the hall during the banquet, and the weight and heat of such an intricate headdress was staggering. Tekurah would thank the gods for her shaved head tonight.

The one mercy in my downfall was release from wearing wigs. Allowing my hair to grow freely, I escaped the burden and irritation caused by the uncomfortable fashion. I had always abhorred shaving my head, but Salima usually convinced me to at least trim it short during the blaze of the hottest months. My straight black hair brushed past my shoulders now, and I rejoiced to simply pull it back with a leather tie each morning.

By the time I adjusted the wig to Tekurah's satisfaction, Shira had returned with the jewels. Fashioned from beads of pure gold, multicolored glass, and brilliant blue lapis lazuli, the usekh collar was indeed extraordinary. A large gold amulet embossed with etchings of ibises in full flight sat suspended in the center. The neckpiece extended just past the edges of her wide shoulders. Enhanced by Tekurah's height and long neck, the collar did not overpower her as it would most other women. It galled me to admit such a thing, but Pharaoh himself would take pride in the impressive display of his gift.

Shira applied kohl to our mistress's eyes — the art still eluded me. After a few failed attempts and dangerous near misses, Tekurah forbade me to even approach her cosmetics chest. The newest trend — green malachite on the upper lids and gray galena below — accented and widened her black eyes. I loathed the almond-ash-and-water concoction I was allotted to beautify and protect my own eyes. However, after a year, I could finally apply it without stabbing myself in the eye each morning.

Tekurah did not turn, but her gaze pierced me from the distorted reflection of the silver mirror. "You will not embarrass me tonight. Clumsiness will not be tolerated."

My skin flashed cold.

The Festival of the New Year, birth day of Ra, would be the first celebration I attended as a servant, instead of one being served. Standing behind Tekurah's chair and at her mercy, my humiliation would be on full display for all the guests — many of whom I was well acquainted with.

Tekurah's cruel mouth curved into a smile.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Counted with the Stars by Connilyn Cossette. Copyright © 2016 Connilyn Cossette. Excerpted by permission of Bethany House Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Counted With the Stars 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 62 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story is heartfelt and full of wisdom. It was the first time I've read a bible-romance, but the other genres now pale in comparison.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story drew me in so quickly. It is the story of a young Egyptian woman born to a privileged, rich family. Her life quickly turns upside down. I won't spoil the story for you, gentle reader, but this book is absolutely now one of my favorites. I look forward to reading more from this author. Her characters are fully developed, easily related to, and I fell in love with them. You will love this story! ***** esk 07/2017 ****-
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this story! As someone who always tries to imagine myself in different biblical times, I love reading that perspective of an average woman caught up in the times of the plagues, the downfall of Egypt and the Exidus depicted in the Word. Kiya and Shira are regular girls living their lives when God brings their paths together. The faith and love Shira shares with Kiya leads to Yahweh.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Exodus from a foreigner's perspective. I have always wondered why the people rebelled and fused. Although fiction, this give light to how if we do not accurately reveal God to others and our children, we will have many tribulations also.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just finished reading Cossette's "Counted with the Stars"...what an excellent book! It's a rare jewel in a ton of sand! This is truly a God-gifted new author hitting the book scene. Keep it up, Connilyn, your story-telling gift is so beautiful and so exceptional!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book to read. Interesting and gives insight to how the people on both the Hebrew and Egyptian saw things. I loved that it told of gods love for all who would follow him.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sometimes the story line is obvious, then a turn and you find yourself caught up in the anticipation of what comes next.
inkwellreviews More than 1 year ago
My review from inkwellreviews.com Counted with the Stars by Connilyn Cossette is a fascinating glimpse into the life of Kiya, an Egyptian who flees with the Israelites. The author’s prose was lovely, the story was thought-provoking, and the Biblical narrative was portrayed in a way that honored Scripture. I found myself drawn into a world where the God of the Israelites protected and provided for His children in miraculous ways. This story sparked thoughts of my God’s faithfulness and greatness, both then and now. Kiya, along with a host of other characters, were drawn with artistic strokes. Relatable and multifaceted, each character made me feel he or she could exist in my own world. The book follows the plagues of Egypt and ends before the golden calf is constructed, and each page is worth reading to glimpse a hint of the star-like beauty of the story. Although set in a backdrop of the darkest night, the lights shimmer like a candle flame in a tunnel. I hope you enjoy reading this wonderful story.
Anonymous 4 months ago
Captivating! I felt as if I were among the Hebrew Children. Every experience felt real. Interesting perspective. Would love to read on. Sad for story to come to an end. Is there a next book? So engaging. Would have loved to read of the wedding also
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Its an amazing book
KMarkovich More than 1 year ago
What would it have been like to be an ordinary Egyptian when God brought the plagues on Egypt? In this fantastic Biblical fiction novel, the author weaves a wonderful story about such a person. When Kiya becomes friends with a Hebrew slave girl, serving the same Egyptian mistress as she, her life is changed. I loved how the author explores a side of the story of Exodus from a no body Egyptian, bringing new depth to the ancient story. Even though I “knew” the story, I found the book hard to put down as the author is such a masterful storyteller! I highly recommend this book and look forward to more by this author!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Everything thing that kills me makes me feel alive, baby i been i been losing sleep, dreaming bout the things that we could be,.....................we'll be counting stars
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Can't wait to read the rest kof Can't wait to read remaining "out of Egypt" series. Great combo of fiction and religion!
hes7 More than 1 year ago
Counted With the Stars is a marvelous debut novel for Connilyn Cossette. She tells the familiar story of the Exodus, but with a fresh perspective: Kiya, an Egyptian slave. I loved seeing the Hebrews, the plagues, leaving Egypt, etc. through Kiya’s eyes, adding depth to stories I already knew. Every moment of Kiya’s experience feels well-researched, and the author does an excellent job of vividly setting the scene, as well as exploring the development of faith. Her writing and storytelling grabbed my attention from the start, and I completely enjoyed reading Counted With the Stars. For fans of biblical fiction, this book is a must-read! Thanks to Bethany House, I received a copy of Counted With the Stars and the opportunity to provide an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, and all the opinions I have expressed are my own.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thoroughly enjoyed this boo.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read. Deep characters!
FantasyRaider More than 1 year ago
I’m not overly religious so I rarely read Christian romance books but for some reason I felt the urge to read this story from the moment I first laid eyes on it. And not just because of the stunning cover. Unfortunately, it didn’t really deliver the breathtaking story I expected/hoped for. Before I get to the reasons for my disappointment in the story let’s start with the things I liked. I think it’s a brilliant idea to show the story of Moses from a different point of view not the one that everybody knows. It was refreshing, informative and interesting how the author created a whole new side to this epic adventure. I think the story starts out really great because it sucked me in with the first page. It has beautiful and vivid descriptions in it. Also I liked how the story concentrated on the everyday lives of the characters too not just the religious journey of it. The plot and the idea had the potential of brilliance but unfortunately I found a couple of things I missed. First of all, for me the emotional charge just didn’t come through and I think this loss took away a lot from the story. I wanted to feel and experience everything the characters did but it all felt so superficial in occasions even a bit bland. So thorough the whole book I felt like I’m missing something that spark, that extra something that gives life to any tale. Then there is that little pesky romance element to the plot. I saw it coming from miles away because there are a lot of small hints here and there. However I still felt like it was out of the blue because in my opinion it’s not just the chemistry that not there between the characters but they don’t give any kind of concrete indication that they even like each other before almost the very end. So yes the romance is not the best I ever encountered. Lastly and mainly I just couldn’t like Kiya, the main character, no matter how much I tried. I mean she is so vapid, brash and rude at times, also mean to others and quite honestly just simply self absorbed. She uses others a lot. I mean I can understand some of her decisions, because she concentrates on her and her family survival and for some level it’s respectable but that doesn’t mean that I have to like the way she does it. She laid blame on the innocent and suffering slaves while looking at the every Egyptian as saints or blameless. Yes she changes a lot during the story and learns a lot about herself and about faith but she also makes too many mistakes and stupid decisions. So I just couldn’t like her at all although it just a preference thing. Okay the author created her characters with a lot of thought and careful contemplation and all of them is complex. The secondary characters are more likeable in my opinion. I especially liked Jumo he is a sweetheart, a pure and honest young man. Over this one was an okay read for me and I probably going to attempt the second book too because the thing that dragged this story down for me was a preference thing and not the writing or the story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Couldn't put them down , whish there was more .
Alice3770 More than 1 year ago
I loved this story and am purchasing the next two now. Very talented writer!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed this biblically based novel from a slave perspective
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was intrigued by the great blending of biblical story and a growing intercultural romance.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed reading Counted with the Stars. The story was interesting and compelling. Good characters with depth.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed reading the struggles of an young Egyptian girl who went from affluent life in Egypt to become a slave to a woman who disposed her mother and her new slave - how Kiya grew in her understanding of our Eternal Father and became a strong follower of the Hebrew faith. The historical-biblical happenings of the plages of Egypt and the prophecies of Moses (Moshah) were interestingly woven to let the reader see these happenings through the eyes of Egyptians. The love story intertwined gives the reader hope for Kiya and her new found family.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Delving into a little known history with reality and intrigue.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Captivating read