Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Reluctant Queen: The Love Story of Esther

I love the love story of Esther. It is a great book of the Bible that includes mystery, romance, intrigue, action, and drama. I was hesitant to read A Reluctant Queen, but decided to at least give it a chance. I enjoyed the story as a novel, but I noticed that the novel did not follow the Biblical account completely.

As the novel of the story of Esther goes, she is a young Jewish woman who enters the harem of the King and is chosen to be his wife. That part follows the story of the Bible. Her Uncle Mordecai who raised her encourages her to keep her Jewish roots to herself which again follows the Biblical account. It is when Haman writes the edict to kill all the Jews that the fiction diverts from the Bible story. In the novel, Mordecai does not talk to Esther about the edict encouraging her that she may have been called for "such a time as this"; Esther does not fast for 3 days; Esther does not invite the King and Haman to a banquet 2 nights in a row; and the King does not ask Esther what her request is even up to half the kingdom he would freely give her. The novel also leaves out the part where the King can't sleep and asks for a scribe to read to him to help him fall asleep. After the scribe reads the part about Mordecai saving his live, the King asks what was done for Mordecai. They tell him nothing was done. So the next morning when Haman comes in, the King asks him for his advice on how to honor an important man. Thinking the King was talking about himself, Haman tells of a great parade through the streets with the man of honor on the King's horse. The King likes the idea and sends Haman to do just that with Mordecai. Haman complies but with such contempt that he then goes and builds the huge gallows which he planned to hang Mordecai.

I know that an author needs to take some artistic license to make a 10 chapter book of the Bible into a 250 page novel; however, instead of adding details to the story, the author omitted important story elements. The line "such a time as this" is classic and could have been included. The storyline with Haman parading Mordecai around on the King's horse would have added to the understanding of Haman's hatred toward Mordecai. I just feel like what was left out should have been part of the story.

I liked reading this book as a novel. Unfortunately, I loved the story of Esther as it is and did not like how this book did not include the story elements that makes the book Esther so great to read.

Thomas Nelson has provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for my review which I freely give.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Dopple Ganger Chronicles: The Great Mogul Diamond

I was glad to read another book in the juvenille fiction genre. It was interesting to read this cross between a chapter book and a graphic novel. I can see how this would be a good book for a boy who is able to read chapter books but is not interested in some of the options that are available.

Since I have not read the first two books in this series, I had a hard time understanding the characters and their backgrounds. I had to quickly catch up with their backstory while at the same time keep up with the action from this story. I think I would have enjoyed the book more if I had read the previous books; however, that is not to say that I did not enjoy this book. On the contrary, it was an interesting book which kept my attention throughout.

The story is about a boy and 2 girls who find themselves in the middle of a mystery. They are as integral as the adults in the book at solving the mystery. It is fast-paced and action packed. I would classify the book as action and suspense with Biblical overtones.

I received this book from Tyndale in exchange for this review.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


Being a Christian in today's culture is not easy; however, when we are trying so hard to fit in we find ourselves looking no different than our unbelieving counterparts. We are suppose to be different; we are suppose to be weird. Craig Groeschel reminds us that we are not suppose to be normal if we call ourselves Christians.

I will warn you that if you read this book, you will have to step out of your comfort zone. I know I did. I like being a comfortable Christian without having to struggle, but that means I am lukewarm which is not where I need to be.

I even made a "do don't" list. It is not a "to do" list, but instead Craig challenges us to let go of things, good things, to receive something better. He tells us, "It's time to create a margin in which you can not only focus on your true priorities but also simply breathe and being to enjoy life again." Why are we so busy creating a good life which we never stop to enjoy? This book is a great reminder that God did not intend for us to be so busy that we miss His presence in our life. We just need take the time to savor His goodness, and I intend to do just that.

Zondervan has provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for my review which I freely give.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

No Place Like Holmes

It is difficult to find good books for young men. My son is an avid reader and will reread books he has already read since there are so few books for him. Since he does not read romance or about vampires, there really is not much left. So I am always excited to find a book that he likes such as No Place Like Holmes.

Griffin Sharpe is a smart and observant young man. He is sent to England to visit his uncle who he thought might just be the great Sherlock Holmes. Instead, his uncle is the nextdoor neighbor to the great detective; however Uncle Rupert thinks himself to be a super sleuth. Griffin quickly finds himself in the middle of a mystery that he and his uncle seek to solve.

I like the book. I also would like to read more Griffin Sharpe stories. This story does leave one rabbit trail that could be followed in another book which just might be The Future Door which comes out in December. My son and I look forward to reading the rest of this series.

Thomas Nelson has provided me a free copy of this book to review.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Too Rich for a Bride

I am not sure I liked this book. It was not all bad but not all good either. Initially, there were so many characters introduced that I had a hard time keeping up with who was who and how they were related. I think it would have helped if I had read Two Brides Too Many first. Once I figured out who all the characters were, I was still having trouble with the story line. The story stuttered with action and dialogue.

The story is about Ida Sinclair as she moves out west to pursue her dream of becoming a business woman in a male-dominated society. She encounters some obstacles that she swiftly overcomes and learns from her mistakes. She is also pursued by 2 men even though she is not looking for a husband. As a matter of fact, the title seems out of place as the story is more about Ida finding out who she is and not about finding a husband.

I wanted to understand better what was happening, but often decisions were made without much description as to why. Then other decisions were dragged out for no apparent reason. There was too much description of things such as the mountains or what a certain character was wearing. Then there was not enough description of what a character was thinking. I just felt like the book had too much and not enough all at the same time. Too much about background information and not enough about the characters themselves.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

MacArthur: America's General

I enjoy history, but to be honest, I have a hard time reading it. Even though this was unnatural for me, I enjoyed reading this biography. MacArthur is a fascinating American icon, and I learned so much about his life that I just never knew.

The book starts with the backstory. MacArthur's father, Arthur MacArthur, was a highly decorated Lieutenant General with a successful military career. Douglas MacArtur idolize his father and spent his career trying to emulate his idol. MacArthur's life was spent serving the county, but he was also a flawed man.

Even though there are movies which depict the life story of MacArthur, Hollywood does not always tell the truth. This story does tell the whole truth, and his life is more fascinating than any movie. The book is not long, and I am sure a lot of details were left out. However, the book does a great job of telling the life story of a great American soldier.

Thomas Nelson has provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for this review which I freely give.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Chocolate Diaries is meant to be savored

Much like chocolate is bittersweet, so is life. Karen Linamen reminds us that we cannot enjoy the sweet taste of chocolate, and of life, without experiencing some of the not-so-sweet moments. Ever eat a spoonful of cocoa? Yuck! But cocoa is the basis for chocolate.

The book will make you laugh and cry and sometimes both at the same time. I can relate to much of what Karen said and know that what she is writing comes from true life experience. Unfortunately, some of the best lessons in life are learned during tough times. Yet, what we learn through those tough times are often blessings in disguise.

With just 208 pages, this could be an easy read. To really process and appreciate this book, you need to savor it, much eating chocolate. Yes, I can put a hand full of M&M's in my mouth all at once, but it is more enjoyable to savor each one. Now, reading this book with a handful of chocolate is an even better idea!

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. I freely give my opinions in this review.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

unPlanned (DVD)

I had wanted to read unPlanned but was not able to get the book when it was available from Tyndale. Instead, I got the opportunity to view the DVD.

The story is amazing. Abby Johnson who first volunteered and eventually worked her way up the corporate ladder to run a Planned Parenthood center, tells her amazing story. After a change of heart, she jumped the fence and began to work for The Coalition for Life center down the street. Watch the trailer here.

I grew up at the same time as she did and realized that if not for the grace of God go I. She just wanted to be a part of something bigger than herself and believed the rhetoric. I grew up thinking that I could be pro-life and pro-choice, but that is just not possible, and Abby is an example of someone who thought she could straddle the fence until truth hit her square in the face.

There was something about the DVD that bothered me. The background music was constant and sometimes too loud. It became foreground music and distracted from the narration.

If you are interested in the free webcast featuring Abby Johnson that will benefit pregnancy care organizations clip here and sign up to participate in the webcast on May 17th at 8PM.

Tyndale has provided me with a free copy of this DVD in exchange for my review which I freely give.