Monday, April 29, 2013

Book Review: Esther the Queen (And A Book Announcement)

The book I read this week was Esther by H.B. Moore.  It is a rich historical about Queen Esther, one of my favorite biblical heroines, and really made me stop and think about how courageous this woman had to be in the face of what she was asked to do.

The thing that always impresses me about Moore's work is how meticulous she is in her research.  I felt like I was there, down to the small details of the pistachio trees and food that was eaten.  It adds so much to the story when you have a background like that.  Esther is portrayed as a woman of faith, but someone who has hopes and dreams.  She wants to follow God's will, but she's afraid.  She loves her family, cares for those around her, and does her best to follow the commandments, but sometimes doesn't quite measure up to what's expected.  I loved how relatable she was and how much better I felt like I understood her, though the book is fiction.

It starts out with Esther's normal life, helping with children and going to a festival to possibly find her future husband.  Through a chance meeting, King Xerxes takes an interest in her and she is asked to join his harem.  There are so many political and spiritual threads at play from that moment on, it was hard to put the book down.  The characters are three dimensional and the issues facing them in their personal choices and where they will draw the line are still some of the same issues we face today.  This is a book that will make you think while making you laugh and cry along with the characters.

Highly recommended for anyone who loves historical fiction.

Here's the back copy:

She is a beautiful young Jewess, content in her life of anonymity.

He is the most powerful king in the world.

When chance brings the two together, the course of history is forever altered.

The glittering court of the Persian Empire serves as the backdrop for one of the most poignant tales of courage in the Bible, brought vividly to life in the pages of bestselling author H.B. Moore’s sweeping saga.
And it begins on a dusty road in the Jewish Quarter . . .

An unexpected meeting between Esther and King Xerxes results in an immediate and unmistakable connection. When Esther is summoned to enter the king’s harem—the first step toward becoming his wife—Esther is torn between her desire to be with Xerxes and the knowledge that they will forever be divided by the secret of her Jewish heritage. Encouraged by her family to do what she must to help her people, she deftly navigates her new position in the palace, quickly becoming beloved by all—including Xerxes.

But when a treacherous plan threatens to engulf the kingdom in violence, Esther must choose between love and duty. Is she prepared to sacrifice all that she holds dear in order to save her people from certain annihilation?

The other book isn't quite a review, but more of an announcement of a spinoff novella to Evertaster, but I'm excited to read it (and so is my 10 year old!)  Here's the info:

The Buttersmiths' Gold

Everyone knows the most coveted treasure of the Viking Age was blueberry muffins. Blueberry muffins so succulent that if you sniffed just a whiff, you'd want a whole bite. If you bit a bite, you'd want a batch; if you snatched a batch, you'd stop at nothing short of going to war just to claim them all. 
Young Torbjorn Trofastsonn comes from the clan that makes them. He's a Viking through and
through – he's thirteen winters old, larger than most respectable rocks, and most of all, a Buttersmith. That's what he thinks anyway, until a charismatic merchant makes Torbjorn question his place among the muffin-makers. When Torbjorn lets the secret of his clan's muffin recipe slip, he calls doom and destruction down upon his peaceful village and forces his brother Storfjell and his clansmen to do the one thing they are ill-prepared to do: battle for their lives.

About The Buttersmiths' Gold
The Buttersmiths' Gold is a spin off novella in the Evertaster series that tells the story of two Viking brothers and their adventurous past. The Evertaster series (Book #1 released June 14, 2012) is about Guster Johnsonville, who goes searching for a legendary taste rumored to be the most delicious in all of history. Along the way he meets a slew of mysterious characters, including two Viking brothers Torbjorn and Storfjell. The Buttersmiths' Gold is their story. 124 pages. By Adam Glendon Sidwell. Published by Future House Publishing. 

Evertaster, Book #1:

A legendary taste. Sought after for centuries. Shrouded in secrecy.
When eleven-year-old Guster Johnsonville rejects his mother’s casserole for the umpteenth time, she takes him into the city of New Orleans to find him something to eat. There, in a dark, abandoned corner of the city they meet a dying pastry maker. In his last breath he entrusts them with a secret: an ancient recipe that makes the most delicious taste the world will ever know — a taste that will change the fate of humanity forever.

Forced to flee by a cult of murderous chefs, the Johnsonvilles embark on a perilous journey to ancient ruins, faraway jungles and forgotten caves. Along the way they discover the truth: Guster is an Evertaster — a kid so picky that nothing but the legendary taste itself will save him from starvation. With the sinister chefs hot on Guster’s heels and the chefs’ reign of terror spreading, Guster and his family must find the legendary taste before it’s too late.


Debra Erfert said...

Esther the Queen is truly a great story. I, too, recommend it.

I enjoyed the Evertaster promo. The boy looked eerily like Guster Johnsonville. Adam did a fantastic job.

Heather Moore said...

Thanks so much for the review, Julie!