Friday, May 27, 2011

Book Review: A Reluctant Queen

A Reluctant Queen
By:  Joan Wolf
Published by Thomas Nelson Publishers
Copyright 2011

When I read historical fiction, and especially fiction based on a Biblical character, I am always looking for the facts to line up just right. If they don't, it takes away from the fun and excitement of the story, and I begin reading critically.  That's what happened when I read A Reluctant Queen by Joan Wolf, based on the life of Esther.

 A Reluctant Queen begins with Esther as a young teenage girl who is the beloved niece in the house of Mordecai.  Eventually we find that Esther is half Jew through her mother and half Achaemenid Persian through her father.  Esther is told by her uncle and her rabbi that she must be their "ear" to the king, and therefore she eventually submits herself as an unwilling candidate to be the new queen.  To her surprise, she is chosen, and even more of a shock she likes this king.  Esther finds herself in a position to influence the king, although she chooses not to do so.  She deals with her own personal jealousy (of the harem and the king's two favorite concubines), which leads to her graciously finding husbands for the younger women in the harem and jobs for the older women, as well as making the eunuchs her own personal regiment of body guards.  She watches the jealousy of Haman with her uncle, Mordecai. She struggles with her faith.  She finally realizes that she really was put in her position by God, to save her people.  Through it all she keeps the love of everyone around her, including the love of the king.

It is my personal belief that Biblical novels need to be as close to the Bible as possible.  Otherwise, the truth of the Bible is lost and you just have a novel.  Although I enjoyed reading the story, I had a hard time getting past the fact that the majority of Ms. Wolf's facts did not line up with the Bible.  I cannot recommend this book as historical, Biblical fiction, and because the book is supposed to be based on the life of the Biblical Esther, I have a hard time recommending this book as just a fun read for non-Christians.

In order to comply with new Federal Trade Commission regulations, please note that this book was provided compliments of Booksneeze.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Flowers bordering ferry slip on Fort Morgan, Alabama.  April 24, 2011

I am so very blessed to have wonderful Christian friends!  For some reason, we seem to be growing closer together now.  We want to do more things together.  I am realizing that my girlfriends are so  much fun to be around!  We laughed so hard this past Saturday night that my ribs ache!  We have some REALLY sarcastic women in our group, myself being one of them.  But each of us are also willing to listen when the others have problems they want to share, things that need prayer.  There's a verse in  Proverbs (27:17) that says "Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend."  When we stick together as Christians, we are there for each other.  We can help lighten each other's loads.  We can gently point out areas that need to be strengthened, and have our own flaws mentioned, too.  We can even help our faith grow stronger, together.

There is another verse, Proverbs 18:24, that says "A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother."  This is a verse that I have to remind myself about constantly. I can't expect people to just come up and be my friends.  I have to step outside my comfort zone (which is to run and hide, wondering why no one likes me), work at the relationship, cultivate the friendship.  And when I do, I am rewarded by friends who will stand by me.  Through the bad times and the good.  I also wonder if this verse hints at the closeness of a person with his Savior?

Isn't it wonderful to have friends?  The good, Christian friends who share your values?  Don't they make life easier and more fun?  Who are your friends?  Hey, do you know the greatest Friend of all?


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Creator

Sunset view from patio of Tacky Jacks II in Gulf Shores, Alabama

"The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handiwork."  Psalm 19:1

Gulf Shores, Alabama

"And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.  "  Genesis 1:9-10

Bellingrath Gardens, Alabama

"And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.  And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth."  Genesis 1:21-22

Bellingrath Gardens, Alabama

"And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.   And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good."  Genesis 1:11-12

Bellingrath Gardens, Alabama

"These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens, And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground. But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground." Genesis 2:4-6

Rose Garden, Bellingrath Gardens, Alabama

"And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it."  Genesis 2:15

Roses, Bellingrath Gardens, Alabama

"O Lord, thou art my God; I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name; for thou hast done wonderful things; thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth..."  Isaiah 25:1

Window in chapel at Bellingrath Gardens, Alabama

Monday, May 2, 2011

Book Review: Knitting Knee-Highs

Knitting Knee-Highs
By:  Barb Brown
Published by Krause Publications
Copyright 2011

In her new book Knitting Knee-Highs, Sock Styles from Classic to Contemporary, Ms. Barb Brown gives patterns for twenty different knee-high socks to knit, including versions of each knee-high in either socks, legwarmers and/or anklets.  She also gives tips and tricks, the "knee-high formula" and conversion ideas (from knee-highs to socks, etc. and vice versa). Each knee-high pattern is unique and beautiful, and the designs are timeless. 

Although I am a fairly new knitter, I am itching to finish my current sock project and start on some of the patterns provided by Ms. Brown!  In fact, I am going out to purchase some yarn this afternoon.  I plan to start with one of the recommended first projects, either a pattern called Counterpane Knee-Highs or the Stalking Stockings.  I think I will save the knee-highs that include multiple colors of yarn for when I am more experienced.  Maybe there will be some new socks in some one's Christmas stocking this year!
Everyone needs a way to relax and unwind, and knitting has become my new passion.  So, for me, this is a book I am going to keep on hand, one that is going to be well worn not only by time, but much use.  Happy knitting!
In order to comply with new Federal Trade Commission regulations, please note that this book was provided compliments of Booksneeze.