April 20, 2014

For Such A Time

For Such a Time
by Kate Breslin


Obviously it would be near to impossible to pick ONE favorite Bible character or ONE favorite Bible story but the story of Esther would have to be among my favorites. Esther was my maternal grandmother's name so that might be one reason. And I'm sure another reason is my love of female heroes. But I also love how she stepped out in FAITH and took unfathomable risks to save her people.

So when I learned of a new novel that parallels the Biblical story of Esther with a fictional character during the Holocaust I was intrigued since it would be a combination of one of my favorite Bible stories with the era of history I'm most intrigued by in spite of its horrors.

I would NOT consider this book for its historical significance though since it is very loosely based on actual historical facts. Yes, she used the camps and ghetto as settings but her dates and information were not meant to be historically or factually accurate. It simply set the story for the book.

She made the parallels between Esther and her novel very easy to follow - which I was thankful for! The main character's real name was Hadassah which was Esther's real name...but you don't learn that right away as she goes by an Aryan name, Stella. Her uncle in the novel went by Morty. The "King" in the novel is a Nazi Officer, Aric, who actually rescues "Stella" from death in Dachau and takes her home to be his secretary because he believed she was an Aryan wrongly put into the camp. A misunderstanding which "Stella" didn't correct in hopes of living safely in his home rather than being sent to certain death.

Stella is given the task of typing up a list of Jews that will next be sent to Auschwitz to be killed. While she looks over the list of 200 names to type up she realizes she could easily omit some names and so begins her risky journey to save her people.

Meanwhile Aric is falling in love with "Stella" and as he proves to be a good boss and protector of "Stella" she begins to fall for him in spite of his role as an officer in the Nazi regime. Their love story is a beautiful addition to the novel.

You'll have to read the book to see how it all ends up. The plot is far from simple and is a definite page turner! This is a book surrounding the Holocaust like I've never read before and is a welcome change of pace. I'd never really thought about the Holocaust being a more modern day version of what Haman was trying to do to the Jews in the Bible but unfortunately the Holocaust that we all study in history class is not the only Holocaust in history.

This book was provided to me by the publisher, Bethany House, in exchange for my honest review.

April 18, 2014

Out of the Depths

Out of the Depths
An Unforgetable WWII Story of Survival, Courage, and the Sinking of the USS Indianapolis.

by Edgar Harrell, USMC with David Harrell


Most of my WWII knowledge centers around the Holocaust side of things and the Invasion of Normandy on D-Day. So I devoured this book about the sinking of the USS Indianapolis and the first hand stories from the Pacific front.

Edgar Harrell shares with excruciating detail his experiences aboard the USS Indy including the night it sank and the 5 days he spent floating in the ocean praying for rescue in shark infested waters. The most amazing part of his story has to be the incredible peace he felt knowing that God was in control. His ability to trust and hope in God in the midst of true despair was amazing. What he and his fellow crewmen lived through was akin to torture. For days they had no food, no water, no shelter, no rest, no protection and in most of their eyes no hope. And in addition to all that they watched as many of their friends died whether it be from starvation, salt water poisoning, shark attack, other elements or injuries from the initial attack.

This is a photo of the USS Indianapolis. 

Harrell's recollection of the events is amazing. I hope it was healing in a way for him to get the words put down on paper and I am truly thankful to him and the other men that served in WWII for sharing their experiences with the rest of us so that their sacrifices won't be forgotten.

In the book the movie Jaws is mentioned because there was a character in the movie that was a USS Indy survivor. I'd seen Jaws more than once but didn't remember so I googled the scene and here is the clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9S41Kplsbs

I don't blame Harrell for telling us that he's never seen the movie nor set foot in the ocean since his rescue.

I really appreciated reading this story from his own personal viewpoint as an actual survivor. But more than that I loved how his story was infused with his faith and hope in God. He readily admits that is the only way he survived. I love that he uses his story to share the Good News.

Part of why I signed up to review this book was because I love history and I love the stories of the men who served in WWII. But another reason was because my husband an I live in Indianapolis and are only about 4 miles from the museum for the USS Indianapolis. We will definitely be planning a visit after reading this book! And if you are in the area I suggest you visit too.

If you are a history buff you'll love this book. If you love memoirs and biographies you'll love this book. If you love reading stories of God's divine intervention you'll love this book.

This book was provided to me by the publisher, Bethany House, in exchange for my honest review.

April 16, 2014

Just 18 Summers

Just 18 Summers
by Rene Gutteridge & Michelle Cox


Just 18 Summers was a very sweet book about the different stages of family. Each chapter of the book was written from the viewpoint of a different character though so sometimes it was a little hard to follow. I did enjoy the different perspectives but at times it just seemed like there were a few too many perspectives.

However, the different perspectives were very interesting. I really liked how each of the four families in the story were at different stages of life. One family was expecting their first child and going through all the emotions involved with preparing to become parents. Another family is dealing with the grief after loosing a wife/mother. The third family has a daughter getting married and a son getting ready to go off to college and they are dealing with a lot of transitions. And the fourth and final family in the story has children they are so busy providing material things for that they forget to provide them with the love and attention they desperately need.

With so many different story lines you are so to be able to identify with at least one of the families. Parts of the book will make you laugh, some will make you cry, and others will just make you think and possibly re-evaluate your own life.

I really love how each of the characters had their own individual moments of figuring out what the really important things are in life. I especially loved the moments when they realized that doing things on their own strength wasn't the best way. There were some profound moments of prayer that really spoke to me.

I'd recommend this book to anyone that wants to have children, already does of any age, or even to the empty-nesters as they possibly approach the years of grand-parenting.

This book was provided to me by the publisher, Tyndale Fiction, in exchange for my honest review.

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