Monday, June 14, 2010

Some Summer Read Recommendations...

It's been awhile since I've posted reviews, so I wanted to let you know about a couple books I've been reading that I really enjoyed. Very different genres, but you expect nothing less from me right? :-)

The Mailbox, Marybeth Whalen's debut novel, reminded me of a Nicholas Sparks novel from the opening scene. Teenage love is found and then lost and years later there's the glimmer of hope that they can recreate what was lost then. But as with most love stories, there are so many obstacles standing in their way it looks impossible. The author weaves the story back and forth between the first summer the current day, slowly bringing the two timelines together. In some books that technique is jarring, but in this one it helped me dive deeper into the characters and their psyches.

The writing is simple, the mailbox an engaging hook, and the idea of a Kindred Spirit we share our deepest selves with sweet. The spiritual thread was also woven into the story in a natural way that reflected the hero and heroine's growth. But what really struck me was the quest for the heroine to find out how very strong she is. She doesn't see it as the book threads from chapter one almost to the end, but by the end she's able to make a choice which requires her to have a core, inner strength she didn't know existed.

This book makes a perfect summer read with a hidden depth that makes the story that much richer. I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to reading more novels by this author.

Chosen is a book that was originally published a few years ago by NavPress, but has been rereleased this spring by David C. Cook. I've wanted to read it since first seeing it, but never actually picked the book up. Now I have.

I've been captivated by the story of Esther since I was a preteen reading the Bible. When there are only a couple books of the Bible that focus on women and one of them deals with a girl who becomes queen, it held a special fascination. Chosen is Ginger Garrett's retelling of Esther from the premise that Esther's lost diaries have been found.

As a history lover, I found the inserted articles from newspapers and journals confusing. I even emailed Ginger and asked her if any were real reprints. Some are which added to the mystic of the book.

What I found entrancing about this book was the way that it swept me to a Persian palace. With each entry in the diary, I could imagine sitting with Esther in the harem and then in the queen's palace. I could imagine the beauty treatments and the complete lack of control the chosen had. The book is filled with intrigue and turned the short, ten chapter book of the Bible into a vivid 300 page novel. And I think it's one that even if you're not sure you like Biblical fiction you would enjoy. Who doesn't want to spend time imagining that she could be chosen above all others to be queen?

Both books were provided by the publisher, but the reviews reflect only my opinions after reading the books.

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