My Name is Saul - 4 Stars

Apart from brief mentions of the lives before, Sunday school and sermons rarely ever delve deep into an apostle’s life outside of his calling. This leaves a question of who the person was before they were called by God. My Name is Saul shines a light on the apostle and his life in prison. We get to see his true personality. He seems to have a handle of bleak humor which is seen throughout especially when he talks about his own death. This book is the biography of Apostle Saul of Tarsus. It is a deep dive into his early life and a chance to see that God will call you despite what or who you are.

One thing that stands out about this book is the depth of research that has gone into it. You can see it from the number of sources provided at the back. You can also see it from the amount of information provided. The author seems deeply invested in the subject with plenty of references to the Bible among other sources. This book gives readers a chance to see different dimensions of Saul before he was Paul. To understand his life as a father and husband. To understand his grief and his circling back to God. To some extent, to understand his astonishment of Aurelius.

The vivid manner in which this book is written has you right there with Saul, experiencing his life right beside him. This book grabs your attention right from the beginning. It keeps you hooked to the story and draws you to Saul both as a character and a person. While this book can stand on its own, it seems to have the Bible as a prerequisite. It draws a lot from scripture and assumes that the reader has read the Bible. However, despite all of this you will find yourself wanting to know more about the story of Saul.

This is a story about loss, triumph and struggling with one’s faith. As Saul quotes, are we only to expect the good from God? This line right here stands out. It is from the first chapter and it unconsciously prepares you for what is to come. This book may help you understand a little more about loss, grief, acceptance, and everything in between. It will inspire you to appreciate your life for the days you lived and not give too much importance to the sufferings you underwent. In this and many other ways, Saul is inspiring. His story will renew your purpose and appreciation for life.

In these difficult times, a book like this is exactly what we need. A refreshing way of telling biblical stories. It lets you see Saul for the man he truly was.

Literary Titan

I, Claudia - 4 Stars

The somewhat untold fictional story based on real historical events during one of the most infamous times in human history. This novel explores the story of the persecution of Jesus Christ from the perspective of the wife of the man who ultimately sentenced him to death, Pontius Pilate.

This story does a fantastic job of showing that despite history painting Pilate as a villain, he was actually a very wise and valiant man who, with the support of his patient and earnest philosophical wife Claudia, did everything to try and save Jesus from the High priests.

This story is a fantastic retelling of one of the most famous times in history. You get to explore the rise of Pontius Pilate and see the human side of him that the gospels leave mainly untold. Plus, much of the story focuses on his wife and her upbringing and events that led her to becoming the woman beside one of the most vilified rulers in the bible.

This story goes into the heart and mind of the man history has held responsible for the fall of the son of god, and the woman who many believed sat idly by and allowed it to happen. Whilst being technically historical fiction, the plot line and events are very believable and with the fantastic background stories of the main characters being explained properly, you begin to really connect with Pontius and Claudia very early on.

There is a good dose of suspense and romance sprinkled through the adventure and by the end of it you actually feel genuine sorrow for Claudia and Pontius Pilate because the author did such a remarkable job of making these historical villains into suffering humans just like all of us.

With the weight of the world on their shoulders, they managed to make the right decisions time after time and you are rooting for them the entire way through the story, hoping for them to succeed and not let the problems of the Empire destroy the idealistic world they created.

Literary Titan

Malthus Revisited - 5 Stars

A threat that most readers can see as a real possibility considering how far science and technology has progressed. Coupled with down to earth characters that you feel a real connection to make this book an outstanding ‘end of world’ saga that has your heart racing right till the end. While overtly spiritual in it’s plot, even the most atheist person could come to enjoy this story because it is a masterful blend of science and religion. With horrifying villains and inspiring heroes plus a few characters who you are never quite sure of which side of the good versus evil fight they stand on, this story is well worth the read.

This book takes a little while to explain how the prologue fits into the narrative but after you see how it all comes together and with various chapters outlining the back stories of the various characters, you begin to understand why the author took time in slowly building toward the most eventful parts of the story.

Once you understand how everything fits together, it takes you on an edge of your seat ride where you wonder how things will turn out. Each character has their part to play and readers get to see both the best and worst aspects of each character, which allows you to become invested in their adventure more deeply than you usually would for a fictional story.

There are a few repeated phrases and words that could have been left out or replaced with a simplified explanation but the intensity of the plot line and anxiety inducing obstacles that are thrown in the way of the main characters do enough to make you forget these minor annoyances.

If you want a thrilling story that takes you to the depths of what an evil mind can cause in this world with the excitement of whether the heroes can triumph. This is a book for you.

My best piece of advice to any would be reader is to make sure you don’t give up on the slow build up toward the real plot because it is well worth the wait and actually helps you understand and feel more invested in the entire story.

Literary Titan

Synopsis: St. Paul the Apostle is a towering biblical figure, but almost nothing is known about his early life as Saul of Tarsus.

As death loomed over him at Mamertine Prison in Rome, under the watchful eye of his jailer and final follower Aurelius, he wrote: "I will die tomorrow. In the morning, around sunrise. There are two things for which I am eminently grateful: That I have been permitted to have fought the good fight and finished the race marked out for me; and that I will not have to endure another winter in this place."

A novel that deftly blends historical fact with an engaging literary creativity, "My Name Is Saul" by Lin Wilder propels her readers back through time to the life of the man who would become known for the next two thousand years as St. Paul. Her vividly imagined, well-founded tale of loss, transformation, and divine intervention will captivate Christians and non-Christians alike who yearn for the human truth and drama that underlay the New Testament scriptures.

Critique: A simply riveting and truly memorable read from cover to cover, "My Name Is Saul" showcases author Lin Wilder's impressive literary gifts as a natural and accomplished storyteller. While "My Name Is Saul" will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community and academic library Historical Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "My Name Is Saul" is also readily available in a digital book format.

Midwest Book Review

I, Claudia: A Novel of the Ancient World

I considered it the definition of ironic to be asked about whether a book is too controversial while reading a book that tries to put Pontius Pilate in a good light. That this book has been published should buck up every author that no subject is too 'out there'. Lin Wilder has stepped into historical fiction for the first time, but you couldn't tell from reading this instant classic.

Working up a creation of a life for Claudia was brilliant. The character is instantly adorable and one the reader can connect with and have empathy for. Lucius Pontius Pilate is given, what I believe is, the first fair treatment in the written history of man. As a numismatist who has studied ancient coins, I can state the biographical info surrounding this 'controversial' figure is perfunctory at best.

This is an amazing tale. The historical content gleaned from years of dedicated research is superb. You can literally feel the breeze against a tunic as you read about the characters walking in Judea. The focal point of the book, the arrest, persecution and prosecution of Jesus, brought tears to my eyes.

This is a book that discusses key aspects of world religion in the context of its larger story but this isn't a religious book. The author never preaches. The author engenders a deeper understanding of this time period then I think has ever been written before.

A sublime and glorious book I would give it 1,000,000 stars but I am held to 5+. Magnificent and should be read by everyone with a pulse.

Disclaimer: I received a copy from the author in the hopes I'd review it.

My Rating: 5+ stars

Mr. N

I, Claudia: A Novel of the Ancient World

Lin Wilder is a tremendously good author, on the highest tiers of quality, and with her books, you are always treated to a masterclass in author research for fiction. “I, Claudia” revels in this, giving Lin the perfect vehicle to apply this trade – and “trade” is the perfect word to describe Lin’s work, as she goes about her business of historical research with the thoroughness of a data analyst. Additionally, if you were in any doubt about the credibility, she readily references all her sources, even in her works of fiction. With her experience of writing high quality, meticulously laboured books, she is a professional in the craft, infusing fictionally dramatized events with copious amounts of factual accuracy and terminology. It goes without saying that she also is a superb writer.

There are two halves to this book, and two contrasting paces to them. The first is something of a slow-burner, focusing mainly on the engagement and journey of young Claudia and her husband-to-be, Lucius Pontius Pilate, to their initial meeting and marriage, with occasional entertaining reminiscences about good and bad times in battle, by the latter. I was perhaps expecting, from the blurb, that the young wife would achieve extraordinary things in her own right, but this was not really the case with “I, Claudia”, as she simply tells in her words an eyewitness account of her husband’s fateful final years; with regard to Claudia Procula herself, there seems little to tell (and, as Lin honestly advises us, there is very little of her in historical literature).

Where this book really started to hook and draw me in was its second half, and the inevitable introduction of Christ into the life of the couple - from this moment on I was utterly engaged. Certainly, we all know Pilate from this primary source - his part in the persecution and execution of Jesus - but Lin admirably portrays Pilate as a decent and honourable man, put in an unenviable situation; she presents a good case that the Prelate’s notoriety is a great injustice and misinterpretation of history. She does this objectively and even with a hint of respect for the man, and this is to her huge credit, because I know the huge importance of Lin’s own Christian faith to her (this said, if she is multi-layered about Pilate, her contempt for King Herod is notable – a character she does not so much craft, as dollop like some odious caricature across the page. Fair play to her for this, however – it can be reasonably assumed that anybody who murders a reported 14,000 infants is generally revolting, in anybody’s book). I have to be honest and say that whilst I don’t doubt the professionalism in Pilate’s repeated attempts to exonerate Jesus, I wondered if Lin was perhaps a little too sympathetic and forgiving toward the Roman, perhaps over-optimistically assuming the devastating guilt he felt for his part in Christ’s torture and murder – this was, after all, a man whose job it was to dispense brutal justice, and one would therefore presume that he did so ruthlessly, on many occasions. Still, remorse is something we all need to believe in for our own peace of mind, no less so than a Christian, to whom forgiveness is paramount.

“I, Claudia” is fantastically vivid and descriptive, as Lin sets every scene, mood and feeling intricately, as though you are right there in the setting, and in the mind of the character. Her account of Christ’s ordeal does not wallow in the graphic detail, and indeed the majority of his suffering occurs off-page, but, via Lin’s quality, detailed writing, you feel his pain nonetheless, through proxy of the two main characters. These parts are hard to read and extremely heartbreaking; you want his end to have been different, but of course you know it will never be, no matter how many times you read. Whilst I am not myself a person of religious faith, I believe in the existence of Jesus the man, and am disturbed by the brutal nature of the torture I am certain he suffered, before he died; I am in little doubt that Lin, like billions before her, has suffered for him – yet, she presents his end only with love, hope and forgiveness. And, that is, of course, the whole point of this semi-fictional book.

Lin is a very intelligent, articulate author, with a tremendous vocabulary, and most certainly a trustworthy source of factual detail. Whether for historical reference about Pilate, or purely for literary entertainment, “I, Claudia” is a wonderful book to read – Lin’s best, in my opinion – and I enjoyed it hugely.

Matt McAvoy

I, Claudia: A Novel of the Ancient World

I, Claudia is an insightful novel of the ancient world, the story of Claudia Procula, wife of Lucius Pontius Pilate. The narrative begins with a glimpse of Claudia's childhood. The suspense rises as she is about to meet Lucius, her betrothed. As Claudia adjusts to her new role and the politics of the area become impassioned, she wrestles with life, as her husband, Lucius Pontius Pilate, is forced to make difficult decisions.

Author Lin Wilder engages readers to join Claudia on an insightful and emotional journey in her novel, I, Claudia, a historical adaption from an almost silent perspective of the events of the ancient days of Jesus’s crucifixion. How does Claudia feel about her husband, his decisions, and her world in general? Read, I, Claudia, to embrace the unique experience of being the wife to one of the most monumentally conflicted men in history.

I love I, Claudia! This novel is a perfect blend of decription, emotion, expression, and historical connection. Reading from the shifting perspectives of Claudia and Lucius is instantly engaging. The author creates a deep connection between the characters and her readers, while painting the backdrop with elegantly crafted prose that brings the story to life.

I read this aloud to my children, who are ages 11 to 18, and they did not appreciate my taking breaks between readings. It is definitely a story that is difficult to put down! I've never read anything by Lin Wilder before, but I am excited to be a new fan of this author.

Litpick Book