Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Book Review: Nightingale

Historical fiction is my favorite kind—especially when the story covers an aspect of history that I don’t know much about. That’s what Nightingale does. The historical part of the story focuses on the unique and sticky struggles faced by Germans living in America during World War II. Imagine the issues that would have come up with German POW’s living in camps in America surrounded by some of their own relatives and friends who’d migrated and were living as free Americans, yet whose loyalties would have been a concern. This element of the story reminded me of the book made movie, “Summer of My German Soldier.”

Yet history is only the background for this story that really is about God’s love, forgiveness, and grace. Characters who have lost themselves in the sins of their past are found again in Christ. They learn that they don’t have to stay prisoners of their mistakes. They can’t live lives that will make them respectable in spite of their wrong choices. But they can turn to God Who will gladly set them free and enable them to live His way.

I enjoyed and recommend this book—an intense and interesting story with a beautiful Christian message and lessons in history. If those are book elements you appreciate, you’ll like reading Nightingale, too.

I gladly thank the Litfuse Publicity Group for sending this book for my review.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Book Review: Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball

If you, like me, never quite outgrew the love of a great fairy tale, Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball will sweep you off your feet. This book is absolutely delightful! Donita K. Paul has quite an imagination! I saw it in her characters. (Sandy and Skippy were my favorites.) I saw it in the setting—if only I could actually visit Sage Street and the Warner, Werner, and Wizbotterdad bookstore. (That’s right—it starts in a bookstore. I was sold from the start! And I’d love to buy a dress from the Booterbaw sisters someday. If only I could.) Finally, I saw her imagination at work all through the vaguely familiar, but not entirely predictable plot. I enjoyed reading this book.

As a bonus, skillfully crafted into the story are many subtle words of Christian wisdom and practical ideas for life. This is my favorite kind of story: one I can thoroughly relax and enjoy, yet glean some significant insight from as I do. (The one I considered most profound can be found in the second full paragraph of page 144.)

If you’re in the mood for a sweet Christmas story as this season just begins, watch for this book this year. While you’re doing that, I’ll be watching for more stories from Donita K. Paul. I guess she’s written several, but this was the first to cross my path.

Thank you Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers for sending this book for my review.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Book Review: Remember Why You Play

When Tyndale House Publishers offers free books for review, they first show me products they think will interest me. This book didn’t show up on that list. I found it in their complete list of available titles. But I’d already heard the story of the final game of the 2008 season for the Faith Christian Lions. (Watch for the movie to come out soon!) When I read that this book was about the whole season, I was curious to learn about events leading up to that final game—even if I’m not a big football fan!

I wasn’t disappointed. Author David Thomas followed the team for a full year, from a heart-breaking end of the 2007 season loss to the final 2008 game. As he takes us through the year, he reveals the story of an incredible head coach/mentor/teacher/friend. Coach Hogan is the kind of influence every Christian parent prays their teenager will meet. He not only teaches the sport, elements of teamwork, and good sportsmanship, but he also shows kids how their relationship with Christ should impact every area of their life. He holds his players to a high standard while teaching Christian values that stick.

Also woven into the story are the personal testimonies of individual players, their families, and other teams impacted by this one. True, there’s a lot of “football-ese,” but it’s understandable even for those who don’t follow the game closely. I enjoyed this book and recommend it to fans of inspirational biographies and as an idea resource for people who work with teens.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Book Review: On This Day in Christian History

I was disappointed in this book. It wasn’t what I expected—it’s not really a daily devotional. As I read, I felt let down.

A devotional starts with a verse or two of Scripture then gives an anecdote or illustration to illuminate biblical truth. Devotionals in this book start with mini-biographies then have a somewhat loosely related Bible verse tacked on at the end. Verses are taken from the Contemporary English Version, one I don’t know much about and wasn’t comfortable with.

In the preface of the book, author Robert Morgan promises a story from an historical Christian’s life for every day that actually happened on the scheduled day of the reading. This is what drew me to read this book. What I found on each page, however, was a mini-biography: a person’s whole life summed up on one page. There was too much information, so the readings were dry and promised anecdotes were mostly lost. One interesting story from someone’s life showing biblical truth in action would have been so much more meaningful than a bombardment of random facts.

One other concern to me was the complete lack of source citations. Morgan makes a confusing statement about sources in the preface, saying that “Secondary sources are not always accurate, and whenever possible, I have tracked down details and verified facts.” But there’s no record of his research anywhere, no way to know what was verified or which details actually came from reliable sources.

I love history and enjoy daily devotionals, so the combination intrigued me. In this book, however, Morgan tried to squeeze in too much and ended up leaving the essential elements out.

I received this book from Thomas Nelson Publishers for review.